Hail to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin... a remembrance

by Lois Cooper

I'm not a music critic but a music lover. With the passing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, I've been moved to pay tribute. Aretha was iconic, awesomely talented, confident in her ability and demanded RESPECT. To some that translated into her being a Diva. The gift was her vocals, rooted in gospel, and accompanied by piano which she played by ear. The bonus was her mastery over the lost art of scatting. When her melody, magic and pure talent were on display it was a win-win for all.

Everyone has their favorite Aretha song such as, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, Ain’t No Way, I Say a Little Prayer and Think to name a few. I could go on and on about the music. The catalogue of hits is extensive. What is undeniable is that her talent is unmatched today. There is something to be said about true grit and natural ability. It cannot be reproduced in the studio or by auto-tune. When Aretha performed she always took it to another level.

One thing people knew about Aretha was that she controlled her own narrative. That was a challenge for blacks in the era in which she emerged. I recently read that she demanded to be paid in cash for each performance. The first $25,000 in cash and the rest by check. All money was received by her unless otherwise stated in the contract. Because of this practice she had several run ins with the IRS. That practice came about because Aretha liked to make sure the people who worked for her got paid after the show. During that time a lot of black entertainers were duped out of their earnings because they were not in control of their finances or music in some cases.

Enjoying Aretha in the Bahamas

Aretha Franklin’s legacy will be here for future generations to be in awe of. One of my favorite memories about Aretha’s music took place on the beach in the Bahamas. My two young daughters, my sister, a family friend and myself were enjoying all that Bahamas had to offered when one of the entertainment organizers on the beach asked what music we’d like to hear. I whipped out my "So Damn Happy” CD by Aretha that I had been listening to, and they played it for all to enjoy. It was magical. The balmy breeze off the ocean, the sun, the sand and tunes from Aretha Franklin transformed the resort into a virtual concert venue. What more could we ask for?

Aretha Franklin’s funeral will be held Aug. 31 in her hometown of Detroit. The private service for family and friends will be at the Greater Grace Temple. 

Be Well and Rest Easy Queen!

Lois Cooper

Lois is a native Washingtonian and proud parent of two daughters who recently graduated from college. She is the founder and Director of the District of Columbia African American Legacy Foundation (DCAALF), a grassroots organization that helps underserved populations.

Lois is also the creator and producer of the “The Pride and Promise of Petworth” documentary. Ms. Cooper credits Petworth with helping her to develop into the person she is today. You can email Lois with questions or suggestions on articles about social issues.

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