Aretha Franklin

In Memoriam - Aretha Franklin

For decades Aretha Franklin has been celebrated as one of the greatest American singers of any genre, who helped give birth to soul and redefined the American musical tradition. In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She held the record for the most songs on the Billboard Top 100 for 40 years. Rolling Stone ranked her the greatest singer of all time on its top 100 list, calling her “a gift from God.”

Aretha recorded “Respect” on Valentine’s Day, 1967. It soon became the soundtrack of the civil rights movement. A year later she would sing at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral. The Reverend Jesse Jackson said Aretha anonymously helped fund the civil rights movement for decades. He said, “When Dr. King was alive, several times she helped us make payroll. … Aretha has always been a very socially conscious artist, an inspiration, not just an entertainer.”

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