Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, “Women in History Week,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!
Women’s History Month: Celebrating the Iconic ‘Queen of Soul’
During Women’s History Month we pause to remember and celebrate the achievements of iconic women who positively contributed to shaping the social fabric of America.
One such woman is the spectacular singer, Aretha Franklin. She is still affectionately known as the “Queen of Soul” to her countless millions of fans and others worldwide who span generations of every race, color, gender, age and ethnicity.
Aretha Franklin’s music transcended gender and race.
Life and Legacy
On August 16, 2018, the world lost one of the greatest singers of all time.
Aretha Louise Franklin, the Memphis-born, Detroit-raised singer passed
away at the age of 76.
Franklin had one of the most distinguished voices ever. For more than half a century, her music etched itself into popular culture as readily as the air we breathe and the water we drink.
For many of us, her music was an essential part of our lives.
Her songs nourished our minds, souls, and body. After all, she was indeed the “Queen of Soul!”
Aretha made you move, jump, snap your fingers, move your shoulders, bob
your head, and shuffle your feet. In short, your entire body was invigorated at some level when Ms. Franklin sang.
In 1967, millions of American women cheered when she powerfully belted
out the words R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Her vocal performance was so dynamic and
“Respect” was originally recorded by Otis Redding.
Redding’s song discussed how a woman should respond to and treat the man in her life.
However, Franklin, with an undeniable maturity and unrestrained confidence, took Redding’s message, went on the offense, and produced a revised version that became both a feminist and civil rights anthem.
Franklin was known for her powerful voice. She was also known as a Diva – VH1 devoted a special in her honor with the 2001 show VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin.
In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
She was married to her manager, Ted White, from 1962-1969. Like most of her personal life, Aretha refused to discuss it in the press.
She had a lifelong fear of flying, and after a shaky flight aboard a twin-engine plane in 1984, she has refused to fly. This has limited her touring considerably, and cost her the lead role in a musical biography of Mahalia Jackson.
Aretha was a talented piano player. She played on her 1967 hit “Respect.”
She played a waitress in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. This was during a nadir in her career, between her astounding run of hits in the ’60s and ’70s and her resurgence in the mid-’80s.
In 2008, she was voted Greatest Singer Of All Time by the musicians and journalists selected by Rolling Stone magazine to name their favorite singers of the Rock era. Following Aretha were Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and John Lennon. >>
According to her concert contract, Aretha Franklin liked to receive $25,000 of her performance fee in cash on the night of a concert. The rider for her live shows also stated that the Queen of Soul and her security personnel must be accommodated in hotel rooms below the 5th floor.
Aretha Franklin held the mark for the most Hot 100 entries among women from 1977 until 2017, when Nicki Minaj overtook her total of 73 visits to the chart.
Aretha Franklin’s voice was legally declared one of Michigan’s natural resources in 1985.
Starting in 1988, she sang the theme song to the popular Cosby Show spinoff A Different World for most of its six-season run (it was originally performed by Phoebe Snow and later Boyz II Men). Aretha’s ex-husband Glynn Turman, whom she married in 1978 and divorced in 1984, played math professor Colonel Taylor on the show.
Aretha Franklin went to the same school, Hutchins Junior High, as Lamont Dozier. She was a year younger than the future Motown songwriter; he used to go every Sunday to her father’s church just to watch her perform.
She had four children, all boys. The first came when she was 12 years old; the second when she was 14.
In 1968, a faux Franklin named Vickie Jones started playing shows in Florida as Aretha, keeping up the ruse until Franklin’s people found out and had her arrested. Jones thought she was booked as the opening act for Franklin when she traveled to Florida at the behest of her promoter, who told her she would instead be performing as Franklin. Jones could sing so convincingly that audiences thought she was the real deal. She was found innocent, and her arrest brought her enough notoriety to draw respectable crowds touring under her own name.