Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

I teach middle school band. Today I talked to my students about Aretha Franklin and how she’s the Queen of Soul. I also played her “Live at Fillmore West” CD for them. They liked it. When I asked who had heard of Aretha Franklin before, only a few hands went up. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it bothered me. Everyone should know about Aretha Franklin. After I played the CD for my students, many said they had heard those songs before and how “Grandma” listens to Aretha. Thanks for making me feel old.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942. Her family moved to Detroit when she was still a young child and Aretha started singing gospel there in her father’s church. She started recording for Columbia Records in 1960 and was known as the Queen of Soul by the end of the decade.

Aretha Franklin had many hits on the Billboard charts throughout her career. Some of my favorites are Natural Woman and Until You Come Back to Me. She released Otis Redding’s “Respect” in 1967 and that shot to number one on both the R&B and Pop charts. Respect became her signature song.


As of this writing [August 14, 2018], Aretha is allegedly clinging to life. I’ve read reports that she’s been battling pancreatic cancer for quite some time. Hospice has been called and the family has gathered.

It’s sad that it took Aretha Franklin being on her deathbed for me to tell my students about her. I think I’ll start an artist of the week segment. I’ll introduce a singer or band to my students, give them a few facts, and then play some of their music. Who should be next?  One of my favorites is Gladys Knight, but I think I’ll tell them about Stevie Wonder next.

I wish Aretha Franklin peace in her passing. I hope she gets to jam and continue her Queen of Soul badassery on the other side.

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