Aretha Franklin inspired generations of female singers

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul who changed American music forever and inspired generations of female singers, died in her Detroit home surrounded by family and friends at 9.50 am on Thursday.

The 76-year-old icon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010. Franklin’s family, friends and admirers were praying for her since Wednesday when her condition worsened.

Franklin’s passing came the same day singer Elvis Presley died at his home in Memphis, the city where Franklin was born, 41 years ago.

Tributes began to flow soon after Franklin’s death was announced.

Clive Davis, chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment, described her as a national treasure to be cherished by every generation.

Singer Quincey Jones said Franklin set the bar upon which every female singer will be measured.

Singer Lionel Richie said Franklin’s unique voice, stage presence, and performance style had no match.

Paul McCartney‏ called Franklin an inspiration and “the Queen of our souls.”

Diana Ross said she is sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.

The Recording Academy called Franklin an incomparable artist and one of the most profound voices in music.

US President Donald Trump said Franklin was a great woman with a wonderful God-given voice.

Mayor of Detroit Mike Duggan said few people in the history of the city left as indelible a mark as Aretha.

Franklin, who won 18 Grammy awards and cut 25 gold records, had a sonorous, choir-trained voice that stretched over four octaves.

In a career stretching over five decades, her music touched every genre — from soul and R&B, to gospel and pop.

Besides being a singer, she was a self-taught pianist who learned to play although she did not know how to read music.

Her song (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman as she played the piano at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC brought former president Barack Obama to tears.

She sang at the inaugurations of American presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Obama.

For her contribution to music, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, in 2005.

Among her songs which will be long remembered are Respect, Spanish Harlem, Natural Woman, I Say a Little Prayer and Chain of Fools.

Of them, Respect became an important song of the feminist movement as well as the American Civil Rights Movement.

For her contribution to music, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, in 2005.

Franklin always believed that one need not be an Afro-American to be a soul singer. For her, soul was something creative, something alive.