By Rachael Summers, co-host of Junior Star Singer Songwriter
The music world was rocked on 16 August 2018 when it was announced that the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, had passed away after battling pancreatic cancer.
As one of the most distinctive and influential artists of her generation, Aretha Franklin definitely deserved the R.E.S.P.E.C.T she got. Throughout her career, she racked up an incredible record of charted singles and number ones to become the most charted female artist in history. Many of her songs have become part of the backdrop of the lives of millions of people both young and old, having played on the airwaves and featured on television and in films over several decades.
Aretha Franklin’s success is particulary amazing when you consider the obstacles she faced during her life. Mother to four sons, the first of which she had at only 12 years old and the second at just 14, Aretha still managed to release her first album in 1956 (aged 14) called Spirituals and continued to grow her career. Since childhood, Aretha Franklin had sung in gospel choirs but found stardom with top hits including “Think”, “I say a Little Prayer” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. She appeared in 1980 film The Blues Brothers, and in in 2008 was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 greatest singer of all time. Her duet “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” with George Michael in 1987 won her one of her 18 Grammy Awards during her career and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 then the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
To me, Aretha Franklin represented strength and determination in the music industry and paved the way for many female artists. She set a very high bar for many and created such stunning masterpieces with her own interpretations of popular songs as well as releasing some all-time classics of her own. From pop to opera, standing in for Pavarotti when he was unable to perform Nessun dorma at the 1998 Grammy Awards, she showed her incredible talent to the world, and for it, she was adored.
Aretha will be truly missed by all but her music will transcend, with her remaining one of the greatest artists of all time.
She will always have our respect.