American President Donald Trump and two of his predecessors, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have joined the world in paying tributes to the late singer, Aretha Franklin, who died on Thitsday aged 76 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
US President Donald Trump paid tribute to music icon Aretha Franklin upon her death Thursday as “a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.”
“She will be missed!” he tweeted of the legendary singer, who died at home in Detroit at age 76.
Barack Obama on Thursday paid tribute to the late “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, praising her “unmatched musicianship” that he said “helped define the American experience.”
“Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine,” the former US president said in a statement. “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human.”
“And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton wrote, “Hillary and I mourn the loss of our friend Aretha Franklin, one of America’s greatest national treasures,” said the former US president in a joint statement with his wife, the former secretary of state. “For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry.”
Here are other top tributes to the “Queen of Soul”:
“It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world,” the singer and actress tweeted.
“I am deeply saddened about the passing of the Queen of Soul and my sister in song, Aretha Franklin,” the singer who also gained fame in the golden era of soul, disco and R&B. “Today the world has experienced a tremendous loss. Aretha was a rare treasure whose unmatched musical genius helped craft the soundtrack to the lives of so many.”
“I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin,” the acclaimed singer tweeted.
“Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known,” the pop star tweeted.
“Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul,” the Beatles legend tweeted.
“The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. #RIPArethaFranklin,” tweeted the pop superstar.
“The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled. Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone. For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note. I loved her so and love her still. Goodbye, Queen of Soul,” the singer and actress tweeted.
“Earth has lost a lot of music today,” civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said on local television. “She never stopped serving. She never stopped caring. She never stopped sharing. We thank her so much. We miss her already so much.”
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
“The ever-reigning Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin is an iconic symbol of black pride whose music touched so many hearts and souls,” tweeted the rights organization. “We know Aretha’s legacy will live on.”
“Deeply saddened by the passing of a beloved friend and queen/warrior Aretha Franklin,” tweeted the civil rights activist. “Her contributions are legendary both personally and societally. We hope you take a pause today to remember the life of a beautiful soul.”
“One of the greatest voices of all time has been silenced,” tweeted the California congresswoman. “My dear friend Aretha Franklin has passed. Even though her music will live on forever, the sound, the voice, and the inspiration of the Queen of Soul can never be matched. Farewell, Aretha.
It may be the most rousing feminist anthem ever, but “Respect” — the song that made Aretha Franklin the “Queen of Soul” — was actually written about a man demanding a break from his wife.
Franklin’s genius was to turn the song — and the traditional values it espoused — on their head by some deft changes to the lyrics and by adding the stirring “R – E – S – P – E – C – T” chorus.
In so doing, she made Otis Redding’s 1965 lament of an exhausted working man demanding some slack from his woman into a rallying call for downtrodden African American women.
Rolling Stone magazine put her version in the top five greatest songs of all time, saying Franklin was a “woman calling an end to the exhaustion and sacrifice of a raw deal with scorching sexual authority.”
And even Redding — who wrote other such timeless classics like “Dock of the Bay” and “Try a Little Tenderness” — acknowledged within months of Franklin’s recording that the song belonged to her.
His biographer Mark Ribowsky said that at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California, Redding joked to the crowd, saying: “This next song is a song that a girl took away from me.”
Five months later, the “King of Soul” died in a plane crash aged just 26.
Franklin was an almost unknown gospel singer from Detroit when she went into the studio to record “Respect” with her sisters Erma and Carolyn.
She speeded the song up and cooked up the provocative high-tempo “Sock it to me” refrain, producer Jerry Wexler later recalled in his autobiography, “Rhythm and the Blues: A Life in American Music.”
“The fervour in Aretha’s voice demanded that respect,” he wrote.
But American musicologist Professor Victoria Malawey told AFP that Franklin’s take on the song was far more than a jazzed up cover version.
A new soul
She insisted that Franklin changed “the song so radically… that I would argue she re-authored it.
“It was not just her altering of the lyrics, or changing the point of view of the song from a male one to that of a woman, she also gave it an entirely new energy and soul,” the pop music specialist added.
Malawey, chair of music at Macalester College in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, credits Franklin with turning the song into an anthem for both the feminist and civil rights movement in the late 1960s.
“Not only did she add the R-E-S-P-E-C-T chorus, but her remaking of the song gives it a whole different empowerment message, both sexually and politically.
“In my opinion, the extent of her re-authoring grants her status as owner of the song, and makes it a whole new sonic experience. That is why multiple social movements have claimed Franklin’s ‘Respect’ as theirs” over the past half-century, she said.
The hit won Franklin the first two of her 18 Grammy awards, and went on to feature in more than 30 major films including “Platoon”, “The Blues Brothers”, “Mystic Pizza” and “Forrest Gump”.
Malawey said that Franklin, the daughter of a Baptist minister, always denied that there were sexual overtones to the lyrics she added.
But Wexler begged to differ. “More respect also involved sexual attention of the highest order. What else would ‘Sock it to me’ mean?” he said.
Others who knew her said she was drawing from her tumultuous marriage at the time.
“Whatever the intention, people have taken a definite female sexual empowerment message from the song,” Malawey said.
“There is a long tradition of black female performers allowing for a variety of meanings from their lyrics to assert their sexuality. You see this right down to Beyonce.”
But Malawey said it was Franklin’s “voice, and the power and soul she gives the song, which has inspired and empowered so many people.
“It is something beyond lyrics or the melody that really moves us and that is all to do with Aretha Franklin’s own vocal delivery. That is what has made the song so powerful, so lasting and so relevant today.”
Franklin, the music icon, legendary singer and “Queen of Soul” loved by millions whose history-making career spanned six decades, died on Thursday, her longtime publicist announced. She was 76.
She influenced generations of female singers with unforgettable hits including “Respect” (1967), “Natural Woman” (1968) and “I Say a Little Prayer” (1968). She passed away at home in Detroit from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The multiple Grammy winner cemented her place in US music history with a powerful, bell-clear voice that stretched over four octaves. In a career crossing generations, her hits spanned soul and R&B, to gospel and pop.
Franklin passed away at 9:50 am (1350 GMT) surrounded by her family and loved ones, her family said in a statement issued by her publicist.
“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” the statement said.
“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart.
“We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
Funeral arrangements would be announced in the coming days, the family added, thanking fans around the world for their “incredible outpouring of love” since it first emerged earlier this week that she was gravely ill.
“We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
The 18-time Grammy award winner inspired multiple singers during her five-decade career from pop diva Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston, to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and the late Amy Winehouse.
The Recording Academy called Franklin “an incomparable artist” and “one of the most profound voices in music” whose “distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings, and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide.”
In 1987, she became the first woman ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, male or female.
She sang at the inaugurations of presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the investiture of the country’s first African-American head of state.
US President Donald Trump paid tribute to Franklin on Twitter as “a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!””
Clinton and his wife, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, on Thursday hailed her as “one of America’s greatest national treasures.”
“For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry,” the former first couple said.
Singers and musicians quickly flooded social media in mourning her passing, which came on the same day that fellow US music giant Elvis Presley died at his home in Memphis, the city where Franklin was born, 41 years ago.
Paul McCartney called Franklin an inspiration and “the Queen of our souls.”
“She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever,” he tweeted.
“I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin,” wrote Diana Ross.
Singer Annie Lennox called Franklin “simply peerless.”
“She has reigned supreme, and will always be held in the highest firmament of stars as the most exceptional vocalist, performer and recording artist the world has ever been privileged to witness,” Lennox tweeted.
“Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known,” tweeted John Legend.
Franklin — who was widely known by only her first name, in true diva style — rose from singing gospel in her father’s church to regularly topping rhythm and blues and pop charts in the 1960s and 1970s.
Other than “Respect,” her powerful cover of the Otis Redding tune that became a feminist anthem and her calling card, Franklin had dozens of Top 40 singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Other hits include “Day Dreaming” (1972), “Jump to It” (1982), “Freeway of Love” (1985), and “A Rose Is Still A Rose” (1998). A 1986 duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” hit number one in several countries.
Franklin’s declining health was first disclosed on the Showbiz 411 website late Sunday by Roger Friedman, a reporter and family friend.
The Detroit News later reported that she was in hospice care, as artists from across the musical spectrum offered well wishes to the singer who lived in Detroit — the Motor City, home of Motown — most of her life.
In 2005, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest award for an American civilian — by then-president George W. Bush.
In 2010, she suffered serious health problems, but continued to perform until late last year, singing last in November 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. That same year, Detroit named a street after her.