It came as a shock to many people, especially soul music lovers to hear of the passing away of universally acclaimed “Queen of Soul” and one of America’s greatest singers – Aretha Franklin at her home in Detroit on Thursday. Aged 76. According to her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, she died of advanced pancreatic cancer.
An exceptional singer she was, she brought the righteous fervor only peculiar to gospel music to the fore in her secular songs in a way that is more than romantic. With hits like “Do Right Woman — Do Right Man,” “Think,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” she showed herself as a strong, ultimately indomitable and a loving singer.
Ms. Franklin has hundreds of songs in her sixty years recording career, but we will highlight some of the most popular and giants among them.
Spending only six years at Columbia record at the time, her greatness and vocal prowess outshone what the record label offers in both arrangement and production. With her hit song Skylark, she cut off the Johnny and Hoagy standard of 1941s as this music found a unique strain in our soul.
I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) (1967)
This happens to be Aretha Franklin’s first single and breakthrough hit with Atlantic Records. After the song broke into the top ten, she announced herself on the music stage as a musician of openness, courage and revelatory confidence. With a combination of Spooner Oldham’s electric piano, her voice rose high and stands as of one of the greatest songs of all time.
Do Right Woman — Do Right Man (1967)
A song that is embedded in country-gospel melody, her performance brought out one of the best artistic expression. The earliest song theme aimed at promoting gender parity, she delivered her message through lyrics and a vocal that has deep humanity.
Although the song was originally written by Otis Redding and claimed a Top 40 hit with it, “Respect” will forever be remembered as one of Ms. Franklin masterpiece. As a No. 1 hit, the song is garnished with wit, erudition and assurance that only Aretha Franklin vocal can give it the RESPECT it deserves. The song will later go on to become an anthem of both feminism and black pride.
Chain of Fools (1967)
Aretha Franklin in collaboration with the tense tremolo of Joe South’s guitar unleashed the power of a woman ignored and in pain in this song. The highlight of the song was when she soars over the whoop-whoop refrain of her backup singers.
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (1967)
A song that was written for her by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, “Natural Woman” turns out to be the music that transcends a single vocal to address a whole gender. Not considering the gospel piano chords of Mr. Oldham, Ms. Franklin rose from encouraging to ecstatic to dole out vocal incertitude and spirit. She gave everything to show what it means to be a woman.
So there you have six of the greatest of Ms. Franklin’s song. Although there are still others like think, Dr. Feel-good (love is a serious business), I say a little prayer, don’t play that song, etc. We can only cover a few. Aretha Franklin was so great, and her music touched many lives.