Recently, Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, passed away. Ms. Franklin grew up singing in her church's choir in Detroit. Over the years, she decided to make singing a career, first signing to Columbia Records at 18. Years later, she signed with Atlantic Records where her most powerful tunes, such as "Respect," are remembered to this day. Her breathtaking vocals earned her 18 Grammy Awards and made her one of the best-selling artists of all time.
The fact that she was a black woman making a name for herself during the height of the Civil Rights movement proves to us that indeed, she was a force to be reckoned with.
Aretha's success as a black artist has been a beacon of inspiration for many. She performed at Barack Obama's 2009 Inauguration, a symbol of hope and progress for the future. Ms. Franklin honored our first African American president by singing the patriotic "My Country 'Tis of Thee (America)." A song was written over 30 years before slavery was emancipated, it went against trailblazers like Obama and Franklin, yet there they stood proudly claiming for all that they also called claim to American freedom and liberty.
Obama even stated, "American history wells up when Aretha sings," a true testament to her defying the status quo.
During her lifetime, Aretha received many awards and honors, and now that she has passed, there are likely many more to remember her legacy. However, her death should not be an excuse to give her more awards; she was hailed as a success throughout her life. Fans, family, and the music industry alike appreciated and recognized the talent the Queen of Soul had while she was living. That is not to say that her death is not a tragedy and a huge loss to the music industry. Aretha paved the way for so many successful black women and should continue to be looked up to as an inspiration and talent. Today, we remember and honor a legend embedded in American history.
A symbol of black excellence, soul music, and the Detroit spirit — this is how I will remember Aretha Franklin. How will you remember the Queen of Soul?