It is a very rare moment when the world comes together to mourn the loss of someone iconic. Today, the world mourns the loss and remembers the life of Aretha Franklin, who passed away this morning at 9:50am at the age of 76. It is confirmed that Franklin died in Detroit, Michigan of advanced pancreatic cancer.
The world got news earlier this week that Franklin was very ill, and although she was on her final days, no one can be prepared for the loss of someone who has done so much for music, women, and history.
Franklin did not just define soul music, she helped shape the music industry as a whole. Her music often represented something bigger than herself, taking a stance on civil rights and female empowerment.
Respect has been a legendary song since its release in 1967. Beginning as the anthem to the civil rights movement, it is now an anthem for women of all colour. It is relatable no matter the age- whether dancing to it at a Year Twelve Formal, or singing it for karaoke at age fifty, it is physically impossible to not hold a powerful stance whilst belting out the lyrics.
Aside from her incredible music career, Franklin had many other iconic moments both in film and history. Although only appearing in the two ‘The Blues Brothers’ films, her role as Mrs. Murphy was show-stopping, helping to fuel the film and eventually leading her to her seventh Top 10 hit on the US charts for her song “Think.”
Franklin also held a large role in the Civil Rights Movement. Franklin is said to have tied the Civil Rights Movement to female empowerment, and joined Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights tour across the United States when she was still a teenager. Franklin eventually would end up singing at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration.
Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She has also received a total of eighteen Grammy wins.
It is also important to note all that Franklin has done for women. Franklin helped shape women’s views on themselves, building the idea that women are powerful and men are the last things to define them. In the words of Franklin herself, “A real man is not going to be intimidated by me. Some men can rise to the occasion, and others cannot.”
While Franklin might be gone physically, her words, music, and ideas will leave a mark unchangeable and unaffected by time.