We’ve lost Aretha Franklin. I’ve posted about a lot of music deaths on Our Salon but I can’t write this obituary. I’d get too many corrections from Ron. I have to report this as news, though, in case anyone here hasn’t heard yet.
This is the voice that topped Rolling Stone’s list of Greatest 100 Singers Of All Time. Someone somewhere might have disputed that. I’m more knowledgeable than most people about music and I find the conclusion too obvious to dispute. A slew of Grammies, a Kennedy Center Honoree, a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, that’s the start of a very long list, most of which is beside the point. She was this country’s premier diva. At the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors program with a nation watching she came on stage to honor Carole King, who was clearly honored herself by Aretha’s presence on stage. It was very much as though royalty had walked out on stage. Aretha blew away the room, standing ovation, the undisputed highlight of the evening. For any artist to do that is quite an accomplishment given who performs in the course of a Kennedy Center Honors program, but a 73 year old singer? There are singers who sound good at that age and older, people like Willie Nelson and James Taylor (maybe a little younger than that), but they generally do it by singing pretty gently throughout their careers, not with raw power like Aretha did. Willie can’t make your hair stand on end with his voice. Aretha did all the time, her voice was literally thrilling.
I assume I won’t be the only voice writing about her. I look forward to the others.