Today is the 71st birthday of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin!
Not much to say about Aretha that hasn’t already been said. The woman is a force of nature. Arguably the greatest voice in the history of popular music, Franklin’s vocal chops are legendary and her impact on rock and soul untouchable.
Back in 2008, Rolling Stone named Aretha Franklin the no. 1 Greatest Singer of All Time. Mary J. Blige wrote a wonderful editorial for the feature:
You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.
Aretha has everything — the power, the technique. She is honest with everything she says. Everything she’s thinking or dealing with is all in the music, from “Chain of Fools” to “Respect” to her live performances. And she has total confidence; she does not waver at all. I think her gospel base brings that confidence, because in gospel they do not play around — they’re all about chops, who has the vocal runs. This is no game to her.
When you watch her work, you can see why Aretha is who she is. When we did the song “Don’t Waste Your Time” on my album Mary, she just went in there and ate that record like Pac-Man. She could be doing a church vocal run, and it would turn into some jazz-space thing, something I never encountered before. You’d say, “Where did that come from? Where did she find that note?”
It’s beautiful to see, because it helps people with a lack of confidence in their ability, like myself. I look at her and think, “I need a piece of that. Whatever that is.”
Listen to Aretha’s classic “Think” below:
Thoughts on the legacy of Aretha Franklin?
What’s your favorite Aretha song?
Sound off below!