By Dana Mathura.
This past Aug. 16, the world lost the acclaimed singer-songwriter, Aretha Franklin to advanced stage pancreatic cancer.
The Queen of Soul, as she was most often referred to, was 76 years old. She passed away at her home in Detroit just two days after it was announced she was in hospice care. Franklin, however, had been ill and getting worse ever since her initial diagnosis back in 2010.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee on Mar. 25, 1942, she readily sang gospel at her father’s Baptist church in Detroit, Michigan. From there she would go on to top the charts in the 1960s and 1970s.
She is probably most notable for her rendition of the song “Respect” which was released in 1967. In the original 1965 Otis Redding version, it was about a man giving his woman respect no matter how much wrong she has done to him. Aretha took it upon herself to alter the song adding the famous “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” spelling done in the chorus.
With that, she changed the game and created a powerful female anthem that would be known for decades to come. Her follow-up classic soul hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was another ode to female empowerment and of owning your sexuality as a woman. The songstress has received 18 Grammy awards in her lifetime—3 of which were for “Respect”—and 44 nominations from the recording Academy. Back in 2005, Franklin was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then President George W. Bush. The singer also had the opportunity to perform at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Aretha Franklin may very well be among the heavenly bodies now—both figuratively and literally—as an asteroid, the "249516 Aretha", was named after her four years ago. Franklin once stated "We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right." She was more than just a hit song-maker; she was a pioneer for women’s rights and the civil rights movement. Franklin genuinely knew the value of respect.