Aretha Franklin at 76: Another LGBT icon passes
As the world lost another light with the passing of pop and jazz diva Aretha Franklin, the LGBT community lost another ally and icon.
Franklin died today at the age of 76 due to pancreatic cancer at her home in Detroit.
Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul
Franklin is well-known for her many hit songs like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” “Chain of Fools,” and “I Knew You Were Waiting,” the latter which she sang with the late George Michael.
Franklin was born on 25 March, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee to parents Reverend Clarence LaVaughn (or C.L.) Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin, a gospel singer.
After first signing on to Columbia Records in 1960, she moved to Atlantic Records courtesy of producer Jerry Wexler, where she recorded her hits “Think,” “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and “Chain of Fools.”
It was there she went on to sing songs like “Son of a Preacher Man,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “Natural Woman.”
She was nominated 44 times for a Grammy and won 18 of these. She was also the first woman inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
She sang at the inauguration of then-President Barack Obama in 2009, and was a frequent guest at the White House back then.
Two days earlier, it had been reported that the singer had been “seriously ill” but was with her loved ones.
Aretha Franklin: An Ally of the LGBT
Many of the LGBT icons mourned her death with Elton John, a friend of the singer, posting a tribute on social media.
“The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church,” Elton wrote.
Franklin’s last public performance was during Elton’s AIDS Foundation benefit in New York last November.
Singer Diana Ross also posted in Twitter: “I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.”
The younger stars likewise expressed their sorrow at Franklin’s death, like Missy Elliot, Britney Spears, and Ariana Grande.
“My prayers are with Aretha Franklin & her family during this difficult time,” Elliot said.
“The world lost an incredibly talented woman today,” Spears said on Twitter even as Grande just posted “Forever” on her account.
LGBT legacy of Aretha Franklin
Celebrities from movies, TV, and fashion gave their respects, like Mariah Carey, Leslie Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Annie Lennox, and Carole King.
Michelle and Barack Obama also expressed their sympathy with the former US president saying: “Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade– our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”
Meanwhile, Michelle said: “Watching Aretha Franklin perform at the White House, and on so many other occasions, made time stand still.”
Lastly, the LGBT community cited Franklin’s songs that guided them and gave them hope, like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and “Pride (A Deeper Love).”
In particular, Franklin turned the Otis Redding song, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and made it her own.
However, this version became the anthem for the black power movement, feminists, human rights activists, and of course, the LGBT community.