Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul with a Soul of Gold

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Being a Queen is not all about singing, looking pretty and being a diva. It is about a lot more substance and has more to do with your service to people, your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well – Aretha Franklin


The young Miss Franklin


Black artistes over the years have traditionally been agents of change through their music, reflecting and shaping the issues of their time. Many have even lost their lives in the cause of fighting for the change they believed in. Some were or are behind the scenes ‘change-lobbyist’ who fight the cause of their people far removed from the camera lights. They come and they go…. recently, one of them left us, on the 16th of August 2018 at the age of 76.


Aretha Louise Franklin, born on the 25th of March 1942 in Memphis Tennessee, was from what could be considered Black Church Royalty. She was born at a time when racial segregation was in full swing. She was a singer, songwriter and pianist and it was said her voice is what organs, violins, saxophones and guitars aspire to be. For over a decade she sang about love, sorrow, struggle, civil rights and faith. She was considered to be one of the giants of soul music and her roots in gospel ran extremely deep.


A world diva emerges



Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible, the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that – Aretha Franklin


In her musical career she was the first woman to have 100 songs on the billboards R&B/Hip Hop song charts and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1999 she received the Medal of Arts. She was the second woman inducted into the United Kingdom Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In the same year 2005, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 2012 was the year she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Aretha Franklin had 44 Grammy Nominations of which she won 18 Grammy Awards.


Be your own artist and always be confident in what you’re doing. If you’re not going to be confident, you might as well not be doing it – Aretha Franklin


In 1967 Aretha Franklin released a cover of Otis Reddings *Respect* which became one of the defining anthems for civil rights movements and was also embraced as a women’s rights anthem.


In 2005, Aretha Franklin wipes a tear after being hounoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom alongside Historian Robert Conquest left and Economist Alan Greenspan. Image courtesy of Wikipedia


Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade – our power and pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and hard-won respect. May the Queen of soul rest in eternal peace – Barack Obama


Aretha Franklin’s force was both cultural and political, her love and advocacy for black people was undeniable and her stance on feminism was unique and unshakable.

She sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King Junior.

She refused to play to segregated audiences.

She offered to post bail following the arrest of Angela Davies (Political prisoner and black feminist icon)

With Martin Luther King Jr

We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right. – Aretha Franklin

This queen of soul is often described in dazzling words, as the world is keen to do with those who have ‘succeeded’. Most inspiring to us at Team LR, is how much challenges “the bottom of her iceberg” held for her. From a turbulent parental separation in her childhood, to the loss of her mother from a heart attack when she was ten and then needing relatives to play the role of mother in her life, it must have been difficult for the young Aretha.


Spare a thought for this lady’s bottom of the “iceberg” and we can only respect her more. Furthermore, it makes one understand how we are all work in progress. Feed not on the tip of other people’s ‘iceberg’ but be inspired by the work they do at the ‘iceberg’ bottom.


Her travails did not end there, it continued with two early pregnancies at 12 and 14 years of age respectively, the young Aretha must have had it though. She remained undaunted. Two marriages, a history of domestic violence and two divorces down the line, fighting her twin demons of alcoholism and smoking, with an ever-fluctuating weight issue, this woman never let go of her self RESPECT. She neither deceived the world nor herself that she was perfect; rather, she met her challenges head on and kept working on how to attain perfection and pave a positive path for humanity.




The many faces of our beloved Diva with a heart of gold


Through her music she tried to show us how to connect with each other. She exemplified and walked the walk of respect and fearlessness.  She led the way for women; no doubt that when doing so, she was not always accepted or embraced. Yet she persisted and did not give up on her vision. She eventually won her many races and converted many skeptics. Many as have described her as:

– A beacon of humanity

– A human rights inspiration

– The sound of vulnerable, hopeful, defiant precious humanity


People really don’t have to give you anything so appreciate what people give you – Aretha Franklin


There was no way the LR Team was going to miss a tribute to a woman who was an inspiration to the world on our motivational e-space. A woman who encouraged everyone to be the best at what they do and touch lives positively as they do so. She gave the world so much through her music and brought alive the term RESPECT, which is something we really need. Respecting our shared *R* eligion, *E* quality, *S* ex (gender), *P* olitics, *E* ducation, *C* ulture, *T* ruth is a tough call for our time but its what we all should aspire to do.


Greatness cannot hide from greatness; they roll together


On the 31st of August 2018, this legend of our time was commited to mother earth at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit. Even in death, this Diva was still ‘divalicious’ in a full length gown and heels of sequin with an audience that had men and women of varied races, religion and social strata in attendance. A friend of the singer and the funeral director of her burial event Linda Swanson summarised it simply yesterday when she said “Aretha was a diva extraordinaire in life; and she will be in the afterlife”.

Aretha Franklin was a legend. One who we hope will inspire more legends as her music continues to inspire generations yet unborn. Aretha Franklin was not only the Queen of Soul with a Soul of Gold, she was an inspiration to many and will be greatly missed as the one who brought Life to Soul and Soul to Life.


It is really an honor if I can be inspirational to a younger singer or person. It means I’ve done my job. – Aretha Franklin





*We thank our editor Erhyo Obodo for preparing this motivational piece for your delight*

All images are courtesy of wikipeda and google respectively
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