Just a few thoughts this morning about what seems like the inevitable end of a legends career and life. As of this blog post Aretha Franklin is in Hospice care and things don’t look good. So instead of waiting for her to pass I wanted to get my thoughts out there. Aretha Franklin is treasured in the Preston house because she was my father’s favorite singer. her voice rang out in our house on Sunday mornings as we listened to her records as our church. It was her voice that was the last voice he heard as he passed away 13 years ago.
My father would play her albums along with many other R&B and Soul albums by singers and groups like The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Diana Ross, and Bob Marley. he would talk to me about his love for her voice, the pain and the joy. He would compare her voice to that of my grandmother’s. A voice I never heard sing but according to him was angelic as she also grew up singing in the church just like Aretha. Of course my grandmother was no Aretha but her voice comforted my father when he struggled and made him calm when he was stressed. So, in honor of my first Top 5 Tuesday list I give you my top 5 Aretha Franklin moments.
- Her 2015 Kennedy Honors Moment. The passion, love, and even hurt all showed as she performed for the audience in a performance of a lifetime. As I even type this out I have chills. President and First Lady Obama were moved to tears and she had never been a greater Queen of Soul.
2. Her first television appearance, singing Mockingbird. Look at her youth, look at her joy but also stage fright. This performance was a real clue of the singer who would later dominate the zeitgeist of pop culture.
3. Her performance at the Obama Inauguration. This performance makes me miss America and how we used to be. The world is so divisive and mean now. This was a time of tremendous hope and while we have fallen off the path to enlightenment I still feel this performance can remind us what we can be.
4. This performance from The Blues Brothers could be the performance that moved her from music icon to cultural icon. Her voice was perfect and the performance both vocal and acting was spot on. It was my dad’s favorite scene from the movie and he would often get up in the living room and dance like the Blues Brothers and then sit back down marveling at her voice.
5. Above all Aretha was a singer who was more than a pop star or a soul singer but was an activist. Her advocacy for women and black people was found in the message and her voice in her music. She showed the world what it meant to be the Queen of something, that your voice matters. I hope she recovers, but if this is goodbye, I want to let the world know I hope my father has front row tickets to her concert in heaven. That is how I picture paradise.