Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” died yesterday at age 76, after a battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.
- KC's View:
I recommend to you the piece in The New Yorker by David Remnick, which includes links to some of Aretha Franklin’s most memorable performances.
Here is an excerpt:
“Aretha Franklin’s voice was a pure, painful, and unforgettable expression of American history and American feeling, the collective experience of black Americans and her own life. The Queen of Soul, who died Thursday morning, was the daughter of the most influential black pastor in Detroit, a charismatic, often cruel man who filled the house with musical friends - Duke Ellington, Della Reese, Nat Cole, Mahalia Jackson - and a constant cloud of threat and fury. Aretha Franklin rarely spoke of her inner life, her crises - she was wary of almost everyone - and yet the sound she made, the emotions she expressed and embodied, was as distinctive as that of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane.
“What artist built a sturdier and more sublime arc, from the songs of the first praise houses and black churches to the blues to R. & B. to pop and hip-hop? Like Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, Franklin combined matters of the spirit and matters of the body; the whole of her, it seemed, was in every bar. And though no one could imitate that voice and phrasing - the ecstatic shrieks and eerie note-bending, that sense of behind-the-beat time - her influence was immense … Prayer, love, desire, joy, despair, rapture, feminism, Black Power - it is hard to think of a performer who provided a deeper, more profound reflection of her times.”
You can read the entire, beautiful piece here.
And while you’re at it, watch Aretha Franklin’s turn in The Blues Brothers here. It’ll be the best five minutes you’ll spend today.