With a year now passed since Aretha Franklin left us, she remains a symbol of empowerment and independence.
Her songs ring true in the continuing fight against misogynists, racists and inequalities.
The legendary soul/R&B musician was a model feminist and civil rights activist from the start. She debuted with a collection of religious songs at 14 years old, shortly after dropping out of high school. By 19, she had a hot 100 single and a contract with Columbia Records—all during a time when people of color and women had to struggle to be heard.
Speaking of respect, in 1967, the song that made her a household name, “Respect,” topped the charts. Originally an Otis Redding song that was, quite frankly, a sexist song about a husband demanding more respect from his wife, “Respect” became a feminist anthem in Franklin’s hands.
Franklin’s politically-charged songs topped the charts throughout her life, from her fierce cry for equality with “Think” or her cover of Sam Cooke’s civil rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Unafraid to show the world her strong political stances, Franklin sung at two democratic presidents’ inaugurations, Clinton and Obama.
Though she’s been gone for a year, the strength of this woman lives on and encourages everyone to fight the good fight. Listen below to songs by the powerful soul queen Aretha Franklin and feel empowered.
Aretha Franklin, “I Dream A Dream”
Aretha Franklin, “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Aretha Franklin for Obama Inauguration
Aretha Franklin, “I Say A Little Prayer” live 1970
Aretha Franklin, “Respect” live 1968
Aretha Franklin, “Think” in ‘The Blues Brothers’