The Ailing Queen of Soul

We live in a world where titles reflect a persons standing or accomplishments. We address persons using titles as a manner of respect. Most of us understand we must follow procedure and protocol when appearing before Queen Elizabeth of England. The same goes for any other member of the royal family or any royal family around the world. The title of King or Queen is normally a birthright, however many times we refer to persons as King or Queen because of their accomplishments in life and music. Remember that Elvis Presley has the title King of Rock and Roll. This weeks’ featured artist also earned a title, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.

I remember something the late Don Cornelius said many years ago before an appearance by Aretha Franklin on Soul Train. He said, “I am happy to have lived at a time when I have seen one of the greatest performers on stage,” and then he introduced the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Throughout the 1970’s, Ms. Franklin enjoyed the respect earned from her musical achievements which continues today. Nationally syndicated radio disc jockey Tom Joyner refuses to hear anyone say anything negative about as he says “Our Queen, Aretha Franklin.” When I reflect upon her entire body of work, I wonder who would want to say anything negative about a national treasure like Aretha.

After celebrating her seventy-first birthday in March 2013, Franklin still regularly performs in front of fans and yes, loyal subjects. The Queen of Soul continues to supply subjects with her music and has done so for more than sixty years.  I remember as a pre-teenager watching the Grammy awards and seeing Aretha Franklin regularly win awards like a kid collecting coins. Aretha Franklin won eighteen Grammy awards and sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin recorded 88 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries and 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. In 1987, Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first female performer to be so honored. In 2005, she was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Aretha Franklin is listed in Rolling Stone magazines‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time list. Aretha Franklin is unmistakably at the top of the Soul music genre. The true international Queen of Soul.

Nevertheless, Aretha Franklin is now fighting illness. She recently postponed all of her June 2013 shows to undergo medical treatment. Ms. Franklin did not release any details as to what type of treatment she would receive, nor did she need to disclose private information. I am sure the procedures were necessary because Ms. Franklin needed to postpone performances. For the ultimate performer Aretha Franklin, the show cannot go on as scheduled. Today we speak of talented female artists as Divas. I hear that term diva so frequently I decided to look at the definition in the dictionary. Diva is an Italian word defined as a distinguished woman who sings opera music, or a successful woman. Should we use the term diva as much as we do today? I cannot say for sure! However, in 1998, Franklin won international acclaim for singing the opera aria, “Nessun Dorma”, at the Grammys of that year replacing Luciano Pavarotti. I was only surprised that she did perform the aria without much preparation, but make no mistake, Aretha Franklin well deserves that Diva title as well as Queen of Soul. Her performance of Nessun Dorma further displayed her amazing talent level to the world.

Still, the Queen of Soul is not well today.  When the Queen is not well, the entire kingdom is concerned. I do not think I am alone in hoping that all goes well for Aretha Franklin. At this time we wait, and hope that she returns in July to perform in concerts as scheduled.

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