The world lost an icon, champion and legend today. The woman that defined soul music, Aretha Franklin, passed away at the age of 76 to pancreatic cancer (as confirmed by her publicist). Since news of her passing, celebrities and fans have took to social media to share their condolences and to reflect back on their fondest memory of the Queen.
— Smokey Robinson (@smokey_robinson) August 16, 2018
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) August 16, 2018
This is the face of a young man who couldn't believe he was actually singing with the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. Thank you, Ms. Franklin for blessing us with your incomparable gift. Honored to have shared the stage with you even for a moment. Always bowing down to you. #QueenofSoul pic.twitter.com/4bZVAWcqeS
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 16, 2018
Today’s culture is absolutely obsessed with numbers as it pertains to the entertainment industry so I figured the best way to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul and get through to people the immeasurable impact that Aretha Franklin had on music is to break down her long-standing career by the numbers.
Over the span of her career, Aretha Franklin recorded 112 charted singles. Her first single to chart, “Won’t Be Long, was released in 1961 via Columbia records on her first secular album Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo. The song reached to number 7 on the R&B Billboard chart and was the start of her reign as the most charted female artist in music history.
18 is the total number of Grammy Awards that Aretha Franklin has won with the last trophy being awarded in 2008 in the category of Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for “Never Gonna Break My Faith” with Mary J. Blige. In total, she has been awarded 38 times for her contributions to music.
Aretha Franklin is an artist whose music transcended genres and the 419 samples of her music is proof of that. From hip-hop to rock, Aretha’s music influenced so many artists that its no surprise she’s one of the most heavily-sampled artist of our time.
“Laila’s Wisdom” by Rapsody samples “Young, Gifted, and Black” by Aretha Franklin
In addition to musical accomplishments, Aretha Franklin was a staple in the civil right’s movement in 60’s. She was an artist that was not afraid to use her powerful voice to stand up for what she believed in. So many defining and memorable moments in black history and culture include Aretha Franklin. This is the woman that sung at the memorial for civil right’s leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and at the inauguration for America’s first black president, Barack Obama.
There’s a laundry list of accolades that Aretha Franklin has earned over her 76 years of life, her wiki page list them all. However, I truly feel none of those awards embody what Aretha Franklin meant those of us feeling her loss today, especially the black community. She was like that Auntie who always gave out the best advice (and shade!) when we needed it the most. She embraced younger artist, like Trey Songz, and continued to be a mentor and inspiration to those who followed in her path.
There will never be another like Aretha Franklin. She is the Queen of Soul and the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her legacy is cemented and her empowering message of respect, love and faith that she laid in her music will live on forever.
To close, I’d like to leave you all with my favorite song by Aretha Franklin. Long Live the Queen!