Not the Queen of England, or the Queen of Hip-Hop, but the “Queen of Soul“!
Aretha Franklin was a woman who always kept it real-in her music and in her life. Whatever event she found herself involved in was important and meaningful. She came out for causes, good and important causes. Wherever she chose as a venue for concerts, paid or unpaid, she always paid her dues. Not to anyone in particular, but for everyone specifically and collectively, especially regarding Civil Rights. She always appeared to be a humble, honest person and as human as the rest of us. Her aura reflected a person with greatness, but she was never cocky or flaunted it. For that, Aretha, you never again have to ask for respect-you’ve always got it from us all, and you shall always receive R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
Isn’t that always how the best among us are? When there is a certain level of confidence or self assuredness as it pertains to that one special gift we possess with certainty, we aren’t threatened by others and the gifts they may or may not possess. That next level of maturity or ‘becoming’ is when we can be certain of what we bring to the table of life. It is at that point in our personal evolution that we don’t feel the need to be constantly in the ‘limelight’ and are unafraid to co-exist in the light of others. That is humility! That was our Queen!
Thank you, Ms. Franklin for knowing your unique place in the universe. There was no pressure to produce music to keep up with the fads, but your music was your own musical truth. You felt no pressure to give interviews and overly promote your projects, because the audience and fans that you earned would always follow your musical and spiritual journey no matter what. You were indeed a woman who blazed your own trail and we recognized that. We loved that, and most of us could identify with that. In fact, most of us were inspired by that! You were and always will be the “Queen of Soul “!
She was a ‘diva’, in the most positive light, yet still soft-spoken. For someone as famous as the Queen was, she experienced the same life concerns as we did. She battled with her weight, only to come to a point of acceptance and to focus on health more than how heavy you were. We can all relate. You were human. You had a fear of flying, and so your chosen mode of travel was on the ground, but you didn’t miss a scheduled performance or any commitment. Some of us can relate to that, too.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to call his fellow civil rights activists, those ‘disciples’, so to speak, “Drum Majors for Justice”. Consider Aretha a disciple as well. Her involvement in organized activities and events was not because they were fashionable or politically-correct. She gave of her time, raised and used her soulful voice to rally around causes that promoted the best of humanity, equity and equality because she believed. It was right! That was our Queen!
Whether it was an expression of love or heartache, whether it was an expression of joyfulness or the need to dance and be happy, Aretha gave us all of those things-through her music. Whether you’re black or white, there is at least one song sung be Aretha Franklin that stands out in our mind. Her songs weren’t filled with empty words with superficial meanings. They were a connection to life-spiritual and soulful, expressed with a sometimes gospel-like delivery. Aretha Franklin was like “E.F.Hutton”. When she spoke[or sang], everyone listened.
Rooted in the church, her gifts were not to be limited or confined to Gospel or Rock & Roll. She took us to church no matter the genre within which we defined her music. You could tell by the delivery of her songs that not one of her produced vocal stylings were not heartfelt. In fact, if lucky to grow up with Aretha as an artist played on your radio, or your stereo, it was like she reached into our lives and sang our emotions.