It is hard for me to process the “home going” of Aretha Franklin. Her presence, her music and her story has had a profound impact on my life.
Aretha – that is a strong, hard, brazen, robust Black woman name. I know because my Momma is named Areather. Pronounced exactly the same. Spelled differently. The Areather that gave birth to me was also 6 years a junior and a huge fan of the Aretha that provided the soundtrack to her Black womanhood.
Aretha Franklin’s music and her evolution as a woman was household news. My Mother spoke of her like she was a first cousin. We loved Aretha Franklin because she was a REAL Black American woman. She didn’t put on “airs”. What you see, is what you got and that was refreshing in a time when Black Americans (especially women) were made to feel as if they should cower in American society. She embodied strength, authenticity, honesty, the Black American experience, the struggle with the Black church, and the never ending struggle of dealing with the remnants of Black American broken-ness. She never shy’ed away from who she was. She was an exceptionally talented performer that lived “out loud” and was unapologetic in her womanhood and her Blackness. … and in this country, that is a most profound and beautiful thing!
Black Americans (especially those in the “lost” generations) – – we don’t know the absolute magnitude of what we loss. We loss more than a world class vocalist, a pianist and an entertainer – – WE LOST A LEGEND. WE LOST A LIVING BLACK AMERICAN LEGEND. She was a bold pioneer singing brazen feminist songs in a time when it was dangerous and unpopular to do so. She supported the civil rights movements because she stood on the right side of history and humanity. She supported Angela Davis and the Black Panther movement because she was brave and courageous. Aretha Franklin showed us what courage looked like in the face of vile injustice and adversity in America. Even through her relationships, she showed us that Black Women are allowed to love, make mistakes, evolve, change, grow, fall and then get back-up with amazing grace and dignity.
Aretha Franklin was the personification of grace, beauty, style, femininity and most of all moxie.
I cannot possibly sit here and transcribe how much her life and music touched my soul. When she sang it was as though she sang through me. It is as if her hands reached through into my heart and held it, enveloped it – in an embrace so ethereal that it wouldn’t last go until the last note seem to fade out into the beat.
In her honor, I shall just share some of my favorite songs via YouTube. God Bless You in your journey home Ms. Franklin. You weren’t just the “Queen of Soul”, you were a beautiful Black American Queen for the world to behold in awe, love through music and of course R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Rest In Power, Love.