"Jail is hell to be in. I'm going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she's a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people — they've made me financially able to have it — and I want to use it in ways that will help our people." Aretha Franklin on Angela Davis (Jet Magazine, December 3rd, 1970)
As we close off International Women's Month 2021, the team at Beloved would like to thank you for your support of our honoured women: past (Shirley Chisholm), present (Celina Caesar-Chavannes), and future (Krystal Ball). These women have all in their own way shown us the power of African women, through their strength, independence, and ability to say “NO,” to anyone who tries to squelch their fire.
We knew that there would be no better way to end off this month, then to end it with a woman who really needs no introduction.
She was a self-taught musician who learned to play the piano by ear and couldn't read music. In 2003, when asked what her biggest regret was, she confided to Vanity Fair "Not learning to read music.” In 1985, the Department of Natural Resources of the state of Michigan declared her voice a "Natural resource of the state."
She will forever be remembered as the Queen of Soul, and was a force in the music industry. She has helped open so many doors for women who have followed her. We are honoured to present to you the august Aretha Louise Franklin.
She was born on March 25th, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Clarence L. Franklin, was a preacher and a civil rights activist. He was responsible for organizing the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom ahead of his good friend Dr Martin Luther King.
Aretha grew up singing in church. She was recognized instantly as a musical prodigy. She was born with a musical soul and she learned to play the piano by ear as a very young child. Mentored by Mahalia Jackson (Queen of Gospel), Aretha began signing professionally at the age of 12. The first song she ever sang was “Jesus, be a Fence Around Me.”
There is a lot about Aretha’s past that has only recently come out because those who knew her will tell you that she was a very private person. What we do know is that she lost her mother at a young age, gave birth at age 12 and had two children by age 18. She battled alcoholism and smoking, suffered through domestic abuse, experienced tumultuous love affairs that did not last, struggled with reported bouts of depression and experienced financial woes.
One of her darkest moments was when her father Clarence “C.L.” Franklin was shot in 1979 after a shootout with burglars in his home. After one burglar shot Franklin, rupturing his femoral artery, Franklin went into a five-year coma. He died in 1984.
Aretha was only 15 when she signed her first recording contract and released her first album Songs of Faith with JVB Records. A year later, Aretha went on tour with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and when he was assassinated in 1968, she was asked to sing at his funeral. Her star had begun to shine, and this was all before the age of 20 years old.
Aretha sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Aretha was only 18 years old when she released her first single and record. Under Columbia Records, her first single, “Won’t be Long,” reached number seven on the billboard charts. While working with Columbia Records, she had two more R&B Classics: “Operation Heartbreak,” and “Won’t be Long.” Her star power was too much for Columbia Records so she left Columbia and in 1966 signed with Atlantic Records, and this is where she released the song that will forever represent African woman empowerment, that’s right; R. E.S.P.E.CT. Find out what it means to me.
While at Atlantic Records, she released top ten hits: “Baby I Love you,” “A Natural Woman,” and “Chain of Fools.” This garnered her first two Grammy Awards, and eight consecutive Grammys for best female in R&B the vocal category.
From that point on, Aretha was a force of nature. She is responsible for the best selling gospel album of all time, “Amazing Grace,” and in her six-decade career, she: won 18 Grammy awards, was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and worked with musical legends: Ray Charles, James Brown, Luther Vandross, Bill Cosby, Kenny G, and Whitney Houston to name only a few.
We could not close off without recognizing the fact that Aretha graced the stage at the inaugurations for Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
She sang “God Bless America'” at Carter’s inauguration gala in 1977, ”I Dreamed a Dream,” at Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
We lost our beloved Queen of Soul on August 16th, 2018 in Detroit Michigan to advanced pancreatic cancer. Her legacy; she is one of the most influential singers of all time. She was an activist who spoke for her people through her music, and she felt no ways using music as a tool for truth, justice, and soul
Thank you Queen Aretha, our beloved for paving a way for us.