We join with the entire world in mourning the passing of our dear lady, Aretha Franklin, who slipped this mortal ken yesterday. She was all of 76 years old and succumbed to one of the scourges of our times, pancreatic cancer. She was popularly known as ‘The Queen of Soul,’ but we here at OBSERVER media will refer to her as ‘The Queen of Hearts!’ After all, she was ever so charming, gracious and regal – a royal highness in her own right, and a sweetheart in every sense of that word. Her songs tugged at our heartstrings – indeed they spoke to our innermost beings, our very souls, in a way that few songs could.
The Queen of Soul and our Queen of Hearts was born Aretha Louise Franklin to a father who preached the gospel ‘under the anointing,’ and with a sense of urgency that spoke to his devotion to spreading the gospel. Her mother was quite a gifted piano player and gospel singer, so it was no surprise that the young Aretha grew up singing in the church choir, and that she too, became an extraordinarily talented pianist. Seems, Aretha was destined, much like Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston and the hundreds of blues, R&B, jazz and pop crooners who grew up in the church, to minister to our hearts and souls. We suggest that there is that ‘je ne sais quoi’ – that indefinable something in the genesis of the church that inspires their songs to be the very meaningful and sublime gems that they are. There is something coming out of the crucible of the church that informs those singers. Perhaps it is a deeper understanding of human nature; perhaps it is the immediacy of our lives of desperation, and our perpetual struggle for survival – that struggle against infidelity and molestation and spousal abuse and rejection and racism and hatred and war and evil and redemption and hope and faith and love. These are some of the themes in many of the Queen of Soul/Hearts songs and she sang them in her inimitable style with her excellent command and that unmistakable plaintive wail from her heart.
It is said that once you went to a Queen of Soul concert, she would steal your heart and change your life forever. She was that enchanting! The way she strode across the stage, at times strong and unyielding, and at other times vulnerable and broken, the enraptured audience could not help but see themselves in her every word. They identified with every note. They nodded in agreement when she wagged her finger and shook her head. They found a oneness with her when she cast her head back and held out that high note. And of course, they applauded when she shimmied and shook and waltzed across the stage. She had them, happily, in the palm of her hands.
Aretha Franklin cannot die because her zest and enthusiasm for life lives. The ‘Queen of Soul’ cannot die because the passion with which she belted out her soulful compositions will forever speak to, and live in our souls. Our ‘Queen of Soul’ will come to us in the stillness of the night and comfort, inspire and shed that beautiful spirit of romance abroad in our hearts. The Queen of Soul and our Queen of Hearts cannot die because she lives on in her songs that will abide forever! Whenever someone is being thoughtless and boorish, the watchword will be R.E.S.P.E.C.T. And yes, it will be THINK. Think of the many ways in which you are causing pain and hurt. After all, LOVE IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS! Think of what you’re doing to the one that you supposedly love. And whenever a woman yields herself to her man in an unbridled moment of passion and lovemaking, it will be because he made her feel like a NATURAL WOMAN.
The world of music has lost one of its brightest lights, but our loss here on this terrestrial ball is heaven’s gain. There is a bright star shining in the constellation right alongside Mahalia Jackson, the ‘Grandmother of Soul,’ and the lady whose departure, Aretha so ably filled. Together, they will undoubtedly strike up the heavenly band. And cherubim and seraphim will have to put down their harps and trumpets, and fold their wings, and lend ear to the songs that spoke to our cry for freedom, and our quest for equal rights, and our struggle to survive in the harsh and unforgiving reality of life on earth. They will note our cry for the PRECIOUS LORD [to] HOLD MY HAND! They will marvel at how we SAY A LITTLE PRAYER and our faith and belief that A CHANGE IS GONNA COME.
Her majesty, and she was indeed majestic, lives on in our hearts in song. Long live the Queen!