Rest in Power, Queen of Soul
Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, left behind a musical legacy without comparison. She blessed us with the hits that made us dance, sing and cry. A look back at her musical career that spanned nearly 60 years includes:
- 100 singles on the Billboard charts
- 44 Grammy nominations and 18 wins
- #1 on Rolling Stone’s 2010 list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time
- 1st woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987
And the list goes on and on.
But beyond the musical legend that she is, Aretha Franklin blessed us with her unapologetically Black womanhood.
During the sixties, her signature song “Respect” became an anthem for civil rights and women’s rights, celebrating womanhood and Black power during a highly controversial time. Her message of empowerment, equality, and unapologetic Blackness set the stage for the work we continue to do today.
In 2014, Barack Obama said, “She had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans and women and anyone else who felt marginalized because of what they looked like, who they loved. They wanted some respect.”
Aretha Franklin never shied away from embracing her Blackness in her music and activism. Using her voice as a platform, she was upspoken for Black culture, and lifted up others along with her. In 1970, Franklin offered to post bail for activist Angela Davis. She said, “I have the money; I got it from Black people—they’ve made me financially able to have it—and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”
Aretha vocalized our dreams and desires in a way that captivated hearts and minds of our generations. She was Black excellence incarnate. Like Mary J. Blige said, “You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.”
We at Upspoken want to say, Rest in Power, Aretha Franklin.