She was a religious woman, and her faith was strong in an afterlife where she could forever share her gifts. We will surely miss her, though!
The lyrics of The House That Jack Built were problematic even in 1968, but it was always one of my favorites. Something about Ms. Franklin’s voice acknowledging, in the mirror-image of a contemporaneous hit, that even when you fought righteously to get what you needed, it might not be everything you wanted…
— Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) August 16, 2018
… For 17 years, I wrote Aretha dozens of postcards and letters, one every six months, promoting myself as the right collaborator for her memoirs. After working with Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Etta James, I asked each of them to put in a good word for me. When I ghosted Jerry Wexler’s memoirs, I asked him to do the same. They all complied, yet Aretha stayed silent. I befriended her brother Clarence, her sister-in-law Earline, her sisters Erma and Carolyn and her first cousin Brenda. Although I researched Aretha’s life thoroughly, my aim wasn’t a biography, but to work with Aretha herself. I wanted to be her ghost. Of all the great voices, hers was the one I yearned to channel.
And then it happened. Before going to Detroit to research a Motown project, I sent Aretha a postcard — probably my two hundredth — saying I’d love to see her. When she called me at my hotel, I nearly lost it. But I held on, spoke to her for over an hour and convinced her that I was her literary man. We went to work on her book.
Those close to her said she’d never let down her guard. But that didn’t faze me. I’d win over her trust and charm the truth out of her. I didn’t. I found what we wrote — From These Roots (1999) — shallow and void of introspection. During the process, Aretha and I remained civil to another, but she clearly rejected my approach and fashioned the book according to her fantasy of an idyllic life. That was her right. We’re all free to mythologize ourselves any way we please…
Just as she avoided detailing her private struggles, she refused to document her heroic health battle. She stayed firm; she stayed positive; one day she would be healed completely; one day she would open a fashion boutique and a downtown Detroit nightclub; one day she would produce her biopic, telling her story according to her own lights; one day she would conquer her fear of flying and, once again, take Paris by storm.
Her reign would never end. The power of her voice would never diminish. The pure joy of her artistry would last forever.
And it will.
— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) August 16, 2018
Also: watch the hat Aretha wore to Obama’s inauguration because it is better than all the other hats. https://t.co/lw8UQJLKRV
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) August 16, 2018
Zack Stanton, in Politico — “When Aretha Franklin Rocked the National Anthem”:
Five decades ago this month—before “Chicago 1968” became shorthand for mayhem and riots, days ahead of Sen. Abe Ribicoff’s convention-stage denunciation of the police department’s “Gestapo tactics,” and minutes ahead of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s “welcome” speech threatening “law and order in Chicago”—Aretha Franklin opened the Democratic National Convention with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that gave birth to days of outrage among older, white traditionalists upset that the 26-year-old black Detroiter hadn’t stuck to what they thought the script of a national anthem performance should be.
“When the Democratic party selected Aretha Franklin to sing … it apparently was not aware that a ‘soul’ version of the anthem is considered bad taste,” wrote the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Paul Jones. “The appearance of Miss Franklin stirred more controversy than even the seating of the [segregated] Georgia delegations.” “Musically, the generation gap was never so wide,” said New York Times critic Jack Gould.
True, Miss Franklin was singing behind the beat of the full military-style band playing the anthem in accompaniment, but this, her manager explained, was not a stylistic choice so much as an unintentional one—they were at one end of the arena and she was on the other, performing without the benefit of an in-ear monitor to hear them…
Today, we take for granted that pop artists can express their political views and for the most part, nobody really bats an eye. That wasn’t always the case, especially for performers of color.
Aretha Franklin was part of the reason that changed…
NYC FTW. pic.twitter.com/4RBFh33Yxt
— Jamie O'Grady (@JamieOGrady) August 16, 2018
via beloved commentor LAMH–