Aretha – A tribute
to our favourite Lady of Soul
Aretha Franklin captured the soul and the hearts of generations from the 60s onwards
By Wanda Potrykus
Very few are those whose first name when spoken aloud is enough to conjure up at initial hearing the image, persona and, in this instance, the truly spine-tingling voice of the amazing lady we identify most with Detroit, Michigan; but who was, in fact, born in Memphis, Tennesee. Aretha Franklin captured the soul and the hearts of several generations of listeners, viewers, fans and concert goers from the 1960s onwards.
I also wonder, Aretha, if you truly knew how much you meant to so many?
I am still in mourning for a lady whose voice and songs form part of the soundtrack of my life; but while I grieve the loss of the musician and songstress, who provided and interpreted many of the words that helped me push onward, I felt driven to write down some of the thoughts tumbling through my mind. I also wonder, Aretha, if you truly knew how much you meant to so many? No matter our origin… you spoke to us all. May all the colours of the rainbow… accompany you now and for always.
Farewell to the Queen of Soul – No one sleeps forever
RIP Aretha Franklin 1942-2018
Aretha… I greet, thank, and wish you well as you pass beyond,
Fond are the memories of your style, your voice, your passion
Your inimitable fashion sense, so over the top; yet so… apropos
There are many singular voices, during our time on this blue sphere
That we hear, and revere, and that clearly move and mesmerize,
Indeed galvanize from tears to laughter,
Ringing loudly to the rafters,
Daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts,
Here’s your chance
Chant along with Aretha and Annie:
“Sisters are doin’ it for themselves
Standin’ on their own two feet
And ringin’ on their own bells
The inferior sex has got a new exterior
We got doctors, lawyers, politicians too
Everybody, take a look around
Can you see, can you see?
Can you see there’s a woman right next to you?
We said, “Sisters are doin’ it for themselves,” oh yes we are,
Standin’ on their own two feet.”
Heat up the rhetoric, turn up the volume in the sound booth,
That was the anthem of my youth,
Heck what I am saying, of my life,
Aretha was the symbol
I rocked to,
You, we, I… grew up to that image flashed up on the stage and screen
We screamed to the new reality
Aretha made us privy to,
Women’s rights are human rights
You made us demand respect:
Fact is, you even taught some of us how to spell it
R E S P E C T
Don’t you agree?
You made us see… we
The women of the world
Girls, matrons, mothers, even big old ladies like me
We… from north to south and east to west,
We must unite, hold tight, fight if needs be
“We all require and want respect
Man or woman, black or white.
It’s our basic human right.”
Aretha, knew that from her very soul,
Her goal without a doubt was making us believe
That women’s rights were human rights too,
You, a girl, or woman of any age, had to learn to gauge
Her own value and her power
Glower, sulk, flunk, dunk, surmount the junk,
I grew up in the flower power movement of the sixties
Motown music flowed into my consciousness
I confess it fuelled my drive to travel west:
“A rose is still a rose / Baby girl, you’re still a flower/
He can leave you and then take you /
Make you and then break you /
But remember Darlin’, you hold the power!”
Aretha Franklin helped me to believe in myself
“When the river was deep I didn’t falter /
When the mountain was high I still believed /
When the valley was low, it didn’t stop me…”
She said, she sang, she showed, she confirmed
“Let your life be in the sunshine
Not the darkness of your sorrow
You may see you’re lost today
But new love will come tomorrow”
Many are the memorable quotes that will live on,
Gone you might be, to that fantastical choir in the ethers,
But Aretha, know you take the wishes, voices and dreams
… of my, and future generations with you.
You taught us, we fought alongside you and others
Brothers and sisters, we will be
Because of the vital part you played,
Some of us may stray from the path,
But with your great directions
And reflections about womanhood,
We will make good eventually
Gleeful, funny lady, you made music… and poetry
You touched our heart and soul,
You left us with the only gold that matters,
“Nessun dorma… No one sleeps!
Even you princess in your cold room”
Your voice, your words, your songs, your improvisations,
Patience will be hard to come by while we wait
And with bated breath, we’ll sigh
Perhaps cry, and dream a little
Until, our queen… we meet again,
Then… we’ll party hearty… that’s for certain…
Meanwhile the curtain closes on this phase,
But the clever phrases resound…
Words and music, revolving round and round,
Aretha, Queen of Soul, of rock ‘n roll,
You aren’t really gone,
Your legacy lives on… forever.
No one sleeps
Disperse, o night!
Vanish, oh stars!
At daybreak, I will win!
Turandot, Giacomo Puccini, 1920-1924
Feature image: Franklin in 1968 – Atlantic Records (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons
Read also: Women making music… and poetry
Wanda Potrykus is a writer, editor, translator and poet. A graduate of McGill, she has spent most of her career in marketing communications, PR, event and media relations specializing in international aviation, telecommunications, education and the marketing of the arts.