Music is one of the most powerful forces on the planet, which is why musicians are so highly regarded. Music is as important for our well-being as other natural medicines. Everything that we experience is a result of vibrations/resonances. It touches us in special ways. This is why the loss of a powerful musical instrument in the person of the iconic Aretha Franklin, is so profound.
Aretha Louise Franklin, dubbed the “Queen of Soul,” passed away on August 16, 2018 at the age of 76 in her home in Detroit, MI from pancreatic cancer. It is not an understatement to say that Aretha Franklin’s music defined a definite sociological period in the life of America, and ultimately, the world.
A child prodigy, she was arguably one of the most powerful and renowned singers in American history, a song writer, and a self-taught pianist.
Aretha was born in Memphis Tennessee on March 25, 1942. After several moves, her family ended up in Detroit. Her father was a famous preacher, Reverend C.L. Franklin, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church. Her mother, Barbara, was a piano player and vocalist. Her dad rubbed shoulders with the likes of Clara Ward, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and many others of similar status, and was involved in the civil rights movement.
After becoming aware of Aretha’s talent, he became her manager and had her perform in his gospel caravan. Aretha received her first recording contract at the age of 12 with J-V-P records, but did not receive much fame. She later signed with Columbia Records, where she released her first hit single, Today I Sing the Blues.
Ultimately, Aretha went on to master a number of musical genres. Though known as the Queen of Soul, she actually defied categorization. One notable event in this regard occurred when she was asked, on extremely short notice, to substitute for Pavarotti at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998. Her performance of the operatic aria Nessun Dorma was phenomenal, and cemented for her a seat among the greatest artists of all times.
Aretha left her imprint on the civil rights movement. At one time she offered to place bail for professor and activist Angela Davis, and her song, “Respect,” became an anthem for the movement and a voice for women. In other arenas, she performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. She has been awarded many prestigious honors and was the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She received 18 Grammys, and has influenced numerous artists including Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyonce’, and many, many others.
Aretha Franklin did not have an especially easy life. She lost her mother at an early age and had her first child at the age of 12. She had four children by four different men, and was married twice. She also endured some vicious rumors regarding her family’s life.
In 2010 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She previously had issues with alcoholism and a smoking addiction, endured racial problems during the Jim Crow era, and it has been said that she suffered from deep insecurities. Her father was murdered, shot after a robbery attempt, and Aretha cared for him until he ultimately died as result of the event.
Basically, what this all says is that Aretha, affectionately known as “Re Re” to some, was human like the rest of us. She had challenges that she had to overcome and lived life as best as she knew how. In spite of her challenges, the music that she gave to the world has had an enduring impact on the fabric of our collective lives.
Some are even saying that she was anointed and that her music swept everybody, no matter the race, color or creed, thereby breaking down barriers.
Good musicians provide an important service to the world because of music’s power to heal. Some say that “music soothes the savage beast.” If so, this is testimony to the impact that vibration has on people and things. No doubt the time will come when people understand that music is as important to the well-being of humankind as medicine. It is far more than frivolous entertainment.
It carries information within its resonance patterns, as indicated by the fact that the right songs can make us re-live special moments in our lives. With this said, Aretha Louise Franklin brought a lot of joy and a lot of healing to people, and we are glad that she shared her immense talents with us. Rest in Perfect Peace, great Queen! A Luta Continua.