Aretha Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul,” died Thursday at the age of 76, due to advanced pancreatic cancer. As a singer, she was known for such classics as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
She is known as a national treasure, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the voice of 20 No. 1 songs on the R&B charts. Bill and Hillary Clinton issued a statement mourning the loss of Franklin:
“For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry. Aretha’s first music school was the church and her performances were powered by what she learned there. I’ll always be grateful for her kindness and support, including her performances at both my inaugural celebrations, and for the chance to be there for what sadly turned out to be her final performance last November at a benefit supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Franklin was the headliner at that concert, which eventually raised $4.4 million for The Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Charities she supported include Feeding America and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
A great artist doesn’t have to be a role model, or even a decent person, for his or her art to be appreciated. Her talent alone could have earned Franklin the title, “Queen of Soul.” But she is, in fact, being remembered as a beacon of humanity, a champion of civil rights and an inspiration to those who want to make the world a better place. Of her fame, Franklin reportedly said, “Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”
She has truly earned respect.