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The Phenomenal Aretha Franklin

Queen of Soul Forever



Throughout my life, I have always heard that music soothes the savage beast. This concept came from different people. Some I know or knew, some I don’t know. Perhaps, that’s why I have always been a person who can appreciate different genres of music. From each song that I listen to, despite its genre, I listen closely to the lyrics to hear if the words are positive or negative. When I think back to the different music that I was exposed to coming up as a child, I am truly grateful and thankful to all those people in my life who taught me to value the different styles of musical artists. It’s because of them that I am, musically, a well-rounded woman.

Prior to musical producers implementing the label Rhythm & Blues, the common label SOUL MUSIC was how music lovers may have referred to those artists whose lyrics were sung with intense heart and soul. Since I value different genres of music, I am aware that there are countless artists, of yesterday and today, who perform their music with heart and soul. But, although I’m not a person who believes in putting others on pedestals, when I think of a PERSON, a WOMAN, a LEGACY, who deserves the title of QUEEN OF SOUL, the first and only name that comes to mind for me is ARETHA FRANKLIN. Born Aretha Louis Franklin to a Baptist Minister, Rev. C. L. Franklin and his wife, Barbara S. Franklin in March 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, this super-talented artist and pianist has blessed the music industry with her angelic voice and beautiful presence for over six decades. That’s longer than I’ve been around. And yet, listening to the lyrics of her songs, reminds me of that Motown sound. That familiar sound that I’m able to connect with instantly.

It’s no surprise that Aretha Franklin’s singing began in the church with Gospel Music or that she recorded her first music as a teenager. I hear it, the spirit of  heart and soul, delivered with meaning in each of the lyrics  in all her songs. For years, the voice of the QUEEN OF SOUL could be heard throughout the household in which I grew up. Sometimes, I would even hear my mom singing along with her. Aretha Franklin’s soulful lyrics always left an impression on me which, oftentimes, resulted in me trying to mimic her style of singing, while standing in front of a mirror holding a hairbrush like it's a microphone. Even her brief performance in the diner scene of the movie BLUES BROTHERS, with the late John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, left a lasting impression on me. I remember thinking how commanding her voice sounded in that movie.

From the very beginning, Aretha Franklin has been an artist with a voice that stands out. What sets Aretha Franklin apart from other artists of her era, for me, is that distinctive attitude I hear in each lyric she sings, from any of her many songs. Aretha Franklin’s voice was so full of assurance and attitude, evidence of her blessed gift to sing and perform. Many of the QUEEN OF SOUL’S songs could, and probably did, serve as anthems for women of her era, who were involved in failed relationships that left them feeling anything but good about themselves. For a person to really appreciate the music of Aretha Franklin, I would suggest sitting in a quiet place so that you can hear each one of the meaningful lyrics, while listening to the music that accompanies it.

Since our recent loss of the QUEEN OF SOUL, less than a month ago, I have found myself listening to more of Aretha Franklin’s old school music with deep listening and appreciation. While listening to "A ROSE IS STILL A ROSE," several times, I was able to understand the powerful lyrics, which I believe are meant to assure women of failed relationships that they are still beautiful and worthy, with or without a man in their lives. A woman should never have to degrade herself to receive attention from a man she desires, because that attention is not love, if it feels degrading. Not only was Aretha Franklin, the QUEEN OF SOUL, one of the world’s most acclaimed artists who has received many awards and much recognition for her outstanding talent and performance, she was also a mother and wife. Obviously, she understood and maybe empathized with women of failed relationships. I’m sure the point of her lyrics was not meant to downgrade men, while uplifting women, only to encourage women to always love themselves.

And then, there are the songs in which I could detect the softer side of Aretha Franklin’s feelings on relationships. The side where she doesn’t mind pursuing, or recapturing, the attention of that special man in her life. "UNTIL YOU COME BACK TO ME (THAT’S WHAT I’M GONNA DO)" is the song that gave me that impression, instantly, putting a smile on my face. In this song, the lyrics are directed to that special person who’s obviously pulling away. While listening to this old school song performed by the late QUEEN OF SOUL, I was able to feel the lyrics and take a positive perception of their meaning. As individuals, we face negative and unwanted issues in relationships that may cause us to create distance between ourselves and that special someone we love, to re-evaluate the situation. For the person that’s feeling ignored or left behind, there may be instant loneliness so deep, that it causes you to believe that it’s time to take serious steps to let the other person know that you are there, waiting with open arms. From each lyric of "UNTIL YOU COME BACK TO ME (THAT’S WHAT I’M GONNA DO)," I got this perception and I can totally agree with  Aretha Franklin's notion to do what you must do to let that special someone know that you’re waiting. Even in the song "JUMP TO IT," Ms. Franklin had no shame in admitting that when her baby calls, she ready to move, quickly, so that he won’t have to wait. For someone listening to any of Aretha Franklin's famous hits, there's a part that one can relate to. 

Each time a legend of the music industry has gained his or her wings, and transitioned to Heaven, I think to myself that that HEAVENLY CHOIR must be AWESOME with such a diverse group of talented singers and musicians  from yesterday’s, as well as, today’s musical era! 

Listening to the talented, angelic voice of the late QUEEN OF SOUL, Aretha Franklin, has been a privilege for me. Her music has left a lasting impression on my life because of my appreciation of her phenomenal talent, that only GOD could have given her. Thank God for family and friends that convince Aretha Franklin to share her talent with the rest of the world! One thing for sure is that the QUEEN OF SOUL will forever be remembered, all over the world, from the her incredible legacy that remain!

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The Phenomenal Aretha Franklin
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