Titles and accolades are often little more than hype. Not hers. I was honored to meet Aretha Franklin decades ago when my band did an ABC special with her.
Like many artists, she was an introvert, with a shy smile and a soft speaking voice. And then she sang. And you knew instantly that this was her true voice. Her tone, emotional range, and impossibly perfect runs engulfed you, drew you into her heart, and showed you things you’d never seen before in yourself. Aretha, along with Ray and Otis and a handful of others, yanked me out of my pre-fab suburban cereal box life of hamming it up in school plays and writing catchy ditties to impress cute girls. She showed me what happens when you pour your whole being, your soul, into a song.
She has inspired too many singers and instrumentalists to count, many of them gifted artists in their own right. But there has never been and will never be another Aretha.
RIP, Queen of Soul.