I was trying to keep calm with my natural hair, twist-out struggle this morning when I got the Associated Press alert that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, had passed away. She was only 76 years young. *ugly cry emoji*
It was a gut punch to lose another musical icon. And, it was another reason to say “F*** cancer” as her oncologist confirmed that Franklin had succumbed to advanced pancreatic cancer.
With a bundle of awards including 18 Grammys and three NAACP Image Awards, you can’t deny Franklin’s influence in the music game. In 2010, Franklin topped Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. No lies detected.
Determined not to mourn her death but celebrate her life, I did what I always do with a musician’s passing: I dig into my music library. Five of these songs were released before I was born, but I’m an old soul when it comes to music thanks to my parents and late-night Time Life infomercials. Here are six of my favorite songs from the Queen of Soul:
1. “Call Me” (1970)
There’s not many verses to this song, but Franklin made it real clear that you needed to call her the hour/minute/second you got to your destination.
2. “Respect” (1967)
Singer Otis Redding wrote and released the original version of this song, but it was Franklin’s rendition that became her signature song and an anthem for women around the world.
3. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (1967)
There’s much to love about Franklin’s Kennedy Center Honors performance in 2015 including her fur coat — because she never came half-steppin’ with her outfits — and glimpses of Barack and Michelle Obama singing along to the lyrics (I miss them).
4. Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) (1967)
Here’s another instance of Franklin putting her mark on a previously recorded track. This time, it’s Stevie Wonder.
5. Day Dreaming (1972)
Get in your feelings about this song, which apparently was inspired by at-the-time love interest Dennis Edwards of the Temptations.
6. Wonderful (2003)
Aretha Franklin had made music for more than five decades when she released this feel-good track in the early 2000s.
“Something He Can Feel” (1976)
Songwriter Curtis Mayfield wrote this song for the 1976 film “Sparkle.” I had to include because it laid the foundation for girl group En Vogue to make my favorite cover of this song in 1992.
What are your top Aretha Franklin songs?