What did Aretha Franklin leave us?

On the morning of Thursday, August 16, Aretha Franklin died at her Michigan residence at age 76

What did Aretha Franklin leave us?

The world mourns the queen of soul, after her agent Gwendolyn Quinn broke the news. Many artists have expressed their lament for the death of the artist and, above all, their gratitude.

Aretha Franklin not only leaves a musical legacy undoubted and undisputed, but also we have the figure of a woman close to the struggle for human rights and the claims of race and gender.

Leer en español: ¿Qué nos queda de Aretha Franklin?

In these first days without her, we must listen her music to pay her homage. Here, the facets of the artist.

The artist

During her childhood, in the decade of 1950, Aretha Franklin sang in the church of her father, the reverend CL Franklin, in Detroit. Her first gospel recordings in the studio are from when she was 14 years old.

The epithet Queen of Soul is not free. Franklin was one of the first artists to use gospel arrangements and rhythms in secular and popular music. So, she took her music from the church to the studio and so she changed the commercial music forever.

Her career started at the Columbia label, who wanted to make her a jazz lady. However, a few years later, Franklin was already consecrated as what she was: a soul artist.

From then on, her influence skyrocketed and she began writing songs herself. By the end of the 60s, she had already won two Grammy awards and collaborated with artists such as Eric Claptone.

Not happy with this, the artist began to make her own soul versions of songs from other genres such as pop. During the 1970s, she reinvented herself and besides making soul, she was seduced by disco music.

Also read: Joining a symphony orchestra: This is the successful formula for Latin American musical artists

Then, in the 80s, Franklin reaches the peak of her career with her return to soul, but this time to a more pop soul, which took her to the first places on the radio and that took her music to the ears of everybody.

Franklin was also an excellent pianist, one of Elton John's favorites. Like him, she earned the respect of celebrities inside and outside the music industry.

The black woman

As it has been said before, Aretha Franklin does not leave only a musical legacy. She, to achieve success in a time of change, women's liberation and racial struggles, and to be the woman she was, she passed many barriers that had never been passed before.

She was the first black woman to be the cover of Time magazine and the first woman to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The artist is the voice of soul in the stations and the face of the black women making their way in the music industry and in the mass media.

She gave way to those women who would follow after her and achieved representation in the magazines and on the radio.

It is also known that Franklin was involved in civil rights struggles and that Martin Luther King was seen in her family home in Detroit. Aretha Franklin claimed her race and culture from music because she put black music IGNORE INTO white ears. This represented a new pride for the Afro community in the United States, because their culture was now on the radio.

As if all this were not enough, Aretha Franklin was also a voice of feminism. The song Respect, which gave her the first two Grammys she won, is a reinterpretation of the success of Otis Redding.

The song, which was originally a couple in which the husband asks his wife for respect when he arrives at the house after work, became a hymn that claimed gender equality in the mouth of the artist. Franklin appropriated this song, originally sung by a man, to give it a feminine turn. She changed the lyrics of some verses and Respect became a feminine anthem that demanded respect and dignity.


LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez
Translated from “¿Qué nos queda de Aretha Franklin?”