Aretha’s gone, but her music will live on

by Garth A. Rose

Aretha Franklin legacy

America’s iconic Rhythms and Blues singer Aretha Franklin dubbed the Queen of Soul because of her soulful ballads died last week at her home in Detroit, Michigan after a long illness at age 76.

Since her death tributes have been coming in from all over the globe. In South Florida there was a very interesting show on a local radio as the DJ hostess invited callers to give their tribute to Aretha and to state their what was their favorite Aretha single. So many are Aretha’s hit that there was hardly consensus, but the most popular turned out to be :Ain’t No Way,” “Natural Woman” and “Rock Steady.”

Performance in Jamaica

It may be little known that Aretha performed “Rock Steady” at what may have been her only Jamaican performance at the newly created Bob Marley Performing Arts Center at the World Music Festival in 1982.

“I have fond remembrance of her performance said “George Brandt” a Kendall, Florida mechanic. “she was outstanding, and the song became a forever hit with me. I recall her also singing a soulful rendition of “Day Dreaming” at that show.”

Greatness loss on the youth

Unfortunately, some of South Florida’s younger generation is not as familiar with Aretha’s music as her fans mostly over fifty. When we asked a group 20-year-old  somethings what was their favorite Aretha hit they noticeable was at a lost. Only one young lady mumbled “Respect.” Another young man, Bradley Coombs, said he recalls hearing Aretha sounds, as his mother “constantly plays her songs on their CD player. I love to hear Aretha singing “Ain’t No way” and “Got to find me an Angel.”

Phenomenal Apollo performance

We were fortunate to see Aretha perform when she was still quite young, only 29, at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1971. It took some three hours for the long line that wrapped around the theater to get in, but Aretha made the wait worthwhile, as she belt out hit after hit like “One step Ahead”, “Never Loved a Man” and a phenomenal version of “Spirit in the Dark” which had the entire theater on its feet, stomping and screaming “Aretha, Aretha.”  We have never forgotten that performance, even although it was 47 years ago.

Tribute from Judy Mowatt

In an interview with the Jamaican Observer, Jamaican singer Judy Mowatt, a former member f the I-Threes said Aretha Franklin as one of her favorite acts.

“In the 1970s Aretha’s music related to the human situation, especially for us as women. When you think of a song like “Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You”, this and other songs truly related to me back then. I would later learn that these were based on her own life experiences. I would later realize that when you are committed to a song, it really reaches people in a sincere way,” Mowatt explained. “I saw this when I performed my own songs like Black Woman. Our generation and those who grew up in the 70s and 80s have truly been influenced by Aretha.”

Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee but grew up in Detroit. Her father was civil rights leader Rev C L Franklin. She is survived by four sons.

Events to celebrate Aretha’s life

Multiple events are planned for the celebration of Aretha’s life next week in Detroit. These events are expected to draw dignitaries, musicians and other high-profile figures from around the world.

That includes a funeral service Friday, August 31st. A pair of public visitations will take place earlier in the week. The Free Press will provide live coverage of all events, memorials and celebrations throughout the week.

Aretha Franklin public visitation

When: Tuesday, Aug. 28th and Wednesday, Aug. 29th.

Where: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave. in Detroit. The viewing is in the museum’s spacious rotunda.

Times: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. each day.

The viewing is open to the public but expect long lines.

Aretha Franklin’s funeral

When: 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 31.

Where: Greater Grace Temple, 23500 W. Seven Mile Road in Detroit, on the city’s west side.

The service is limited to family members, friends and selected guests. Public seating may ultimately become available.

Franklin will be buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, 19975 Woodward Ave. in Detroit, alongside late family members including her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin; her brother, Cecil Franklin; her sisters, Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin, and nephew Thomas Garrett.

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