Mourners show r-e-s-p-e-c-t to Queen of Soul


Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, died in August after a short battle with cancer and was mourned by fans around the world.

Steven Rissotto '20, Sports Editor

    Jan.  20, 2009 was a historic day for the United States, as Barack Obama, an African American, was inaugurated into office as the 44th President of the USA. One of the iconic moments of the extremely cold, Washington day was Aretha Franklin singing “America” in front of a large audience, in person and on television.

    It wasn’t the first time Franklin, nicknamed “Queen of Soul,” performed in front of millions of people, and it wasn’t the first time she was honored by an American commander in chief. In 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for her significance in culture. These two events were regarded as her biggest moments by some fans.

    Franklin passed away on Aug. 16 after a short battle with cancer. It was just so fitting that her funeral was held at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, the same holy place she began her singing career as a gospel singer as a young child.

    She was known for numerous hit songs, such as “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Respect.”  She gained the respect she deserved by singing with a voice powerful enough to secure herself 18 Grammy Awards. Franklin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    Director of Bands Kyle Hildebrant said, “Aretha Franklin had amazing poise and professionalism and knew exactly what she wanted musically.”

    For many people around the world, it wasn’t just Franklin’s singing that made her powerful. She was a popular African-American in a crucial time for her community, as her hometown of Detroit was right, smack in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement that changed America for the better. Franklin said, “I suppose the revolution influenced me a great deal.”

    She also became known to the public as the daughter of famous figure  in the Detroit community. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was the pastor of New Bethel, an aforementioned starting spot for Aretha. In the 1950s, C.L. Took young Aretha with him on tours around the United States, most notably in 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. was good friends with C.L., and invited him to walk down Woodward Avenue in Detroit. It was an incredible moment in the Civil Rights Movement, and something Aretha took into her own life.

    When reports leaked that Franklin was gravely ill at 76-years old, many people in the industry weren’t surprised. She had a history of inconsistent weight issues, smoking problems, and alcoholism.

    Her funeral was packed with some of the most popular celebrities in the world. Former president Bill Clinton described her as having “the voice of a generation” and maybe “the voice of a century.”   Singer Ariana Grande, whose vocals compare to Franklin’s, did her best imitation of Aretha by singing “Natural Woman.”

    Franklin’s legacy is unmatchable. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine voted her as the number one greatest singer in history. She will be remembered for her musical ability, as well as an icon in Women’s Rights and Civil Rights movements.