R-E-S-P-E-C-T! A tribute to the Queen of Soul

I have an affinity for history, politics fashion and powerful women. Ms. Aretha Franklin was one of those women. She blew past me with grace and authority when I worked at the Today Show. The greenroom temperature (which was normally as cold as a meat freezer) was set to a muggy 78 degrees. She was a big and small all at the same time, larger than life but tiny, like a grandmother. I stood speechless. She looked in my direction and I blushed, blinked, I was speechless and like that she was gone. 

She was a legend and her eyes had seen some of the most monumental moments in history, her voice guided the way through the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Lib then shined a light on the progress America made at the inauguration of Barack Obama. 

I remember my family singing her greatest hits at family reunions and weddings, I remember recording the lyrics to "Freeway of Love" ( aka Pink Cadillac) on my dad's tape recorder. In the 90's she and Lauryn Hill reminded us of our value in a "Rose is Still a Rose."

I remember her hair, makeup and her sense of style. Aretha did not shy away from her blackness, her afros , her wigs and her strength as a black woman are unmatched.

While we adore Aretha Franklin like a great aunt, she was one of the most accomplished singers of all time. Born in Memphis, raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 18 time Grammy Award Winner, Golden Globe, Gospel Music Hall of Fame, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and Kennedy Center Honor to name some.

Aretha Franklin on stage in the 1960s


Aretha Franklin's career started in church, she traveled through the Jim Crow South and witnessed all levels of discrimination. Franklin sang at the funeral of Rev. Martin Luther King and offered her financial support to civil rights activist Angela Davis. Franklin was no stranger to politics, she went on to sing at the inauguration of Jimmy Carter, was awarded the National Arts Medal from Bill Clinton, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, and sang at the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. 


Lady in Red: From the 60's , 70's and 80's Aretha Franklin never let us down with her fashion choices. 

Legendary fashion choices from Aretha Franklin. From hats to wigs, furs and brows Aretha Franklin did not disappoint. 

Album covers over the decades.

In the 1970's Aretha Franklin gave us African prints, head wraps, afros - Aretha Franklin was unapologetically black, she was an activist, she used her platform to demand respect for all. She walked the walk and talked the talk. 

“Everybody wants respect,” she said to Rolling Stone in 2014. “In their own way, three-year-olds would like respect, and acknowledgment, in their terms.” - Aretha Franklin

One of my favorites. The video is older than me, the song is timeless. 

"God Bless America" , Jimmy Carter Inaugural Ball, 1977

My childhood favorite,"Freeway of Love" , 1985  

Reminding ladies to be ladies, to harness their virtues with Lauryn Hill in the "Rose is Still a Rose." 1998

A proud moment for the nation. Aretha Franklin sings at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, 2009


What are your most memorable Aretha Franklin moments? Did she touch you the way she touched the world?