For many people, timeless music is the type of music that whenever you hear it pulls at your heartstrings and instantly connects you to a mood, memory, feeling or environment. Timeless music is what I equate with the late, great Aretha Franklin. She was the Queen of Soul for a reason; whether playing the piano and crooning or belting out a funky song, Aretha knew how to give you something you could FEEL.
My introduction to Aretha Franklin was at a young age through one of my father’s favorite movies, “The Blues Brothers”. I absolutely LIVED for her character, Mrs. Murphy; the sassy waitress who belted out the 1968 smash hit “Think”. From her biggest hit “RESPECT” to her soulful rendition of “Bridge over Troubled Water”, Auntie ReRe (as I called her in my head) had feel good music that is still relevant til this day; you can still hear her tunes played at your local barbershop/salon, family gathering/cookout/BBQs, weddings, sports games, church functions…..even on Saturday mornings when it’s time to get up and clean the house!
Although I grew up hearing her music throughout my childhood, I didn’t fully appreciate her music until my teens. I was starting to develop my voice as a young singer and began studying ALL the great female vocalists. I went through an ‘Aretha phase’ where I listened to nothing but her music non-stop for about a month or so. This was right around the time Napster came out, so I downloaded E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G Aretha, from B-sides to live album cuts. Luckily, I had musically inclined friends who had old souls too, so they’d share music from Aretha they found by diggin’ in their parent’s crates. One of my favorite songs ever by Franklin I’d practice daily was “Until you Come Back to me”. When I’d get home in the afternoon from school, before my parent’s got there, I’d would let loose and belt out that song at the top of my lungs. Unbeknownst to me my next door neighbor, Mrs. Rozelle, would be on her back porch, cigarette in hand, having a front row seat to my afternoon concerts. One day, she called me over right before I walked in my house and told me she been enjoying my ‘concerts’. She heard I was going to Cleveland to audition for “American Idol” and encouraged me to sing that song. At first, I was clueless and said “what song?” in which she replied, “girl, that Aretha song you been practicin’ every day!…..giiiiirl, you be over there SANGIN!” Regrettably, I didn’t sing that song at the audition; however, I redeemed myself at my senior recital in college by honoring her and singing one of my other absolute favorite Aretha renditions, the jazz standard “Skylark”.
Franklin’s musical contribution blessed us over the span of 6 decades, and her versatility of singing jazz, gospel and soul makes her (arguably) recognized as the GREATEST vocalist of all time. She will forever be acknowledged, celebrated and loved for her gifts and talents that were the soundtrack to many of our lives.
Rest in Paradise Auntie ReRe, we love you.
To continue celebrating, we just gon’ sit my most favorite Aretha JAM “Jump To It” right HERE!