For more than half a century, her presence on the American cultural landscape made an indelible mark on the hearts of the world. But in my neighborhood and in my home, she was more than a cultural icon—she was the queen. As I pen these words, I can barely see through the tears, tears for a woman I never met yet felt I knew so well.
Dearest Aretha, you made your mark in ways that are deeper than I knew before today.
President Barack Obama once said, “Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll—the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope. American history wells up when Aretha sings. That’s why, when she sits down at a piano and sings ‘A Natural Woman,’ she can move me to tears. … because it captures the fullness of the American experience, the view from the bottom as well as the top, the good and the bad, and the possibility of synthesis, reconciliation, transcendence.”
That was the essence of her magic. Her authenticity, her unyielding commitment to be who she was, the courage she showed in stepping onto the international stage without conforming to anyone’s standards but her own–that and more made her our queen.
As President Obama so eloquently said, Aretha Franklin was and will always be the embodiment of the fullness of the American experience.
Aretha Franklin helped me to see that I was not an outsider in my own country — that I actually belonged.
Publisher, LA Progressive