Tributes have poured in for Aretha Franklin after the legendary singer died at home on Thursday at the age of 76.
Presidents, musicians and celebrities have taken to social media to express their love for the ‘Queen of Soul’, who was famous for singing classics such as ‘Think’, ‘Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘Respect’.
At the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, then US president Barack Obama wiped away tears as Franklin brought the house to a standing ovation with her passionate rendition of ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’. He and Michelle Obama paid tribute to her on Twitter on Thursday, saying that she “defined the American experience”.
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
Former US president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged people to listen to Aretha Franklin’s songs, which have been “such an important part” of their lives.
Current US president Donald Trump told his Twitter followers that Franklin’s voice was a “gift from God”.
A ‘remarkable’ music legacy
The music industry mourned the loss of one of its greats. Smokey Robinson, Franklin’s longtime friend and collaborator, said in a statement yesterday that, “This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace.”
Barbra Streisand, who had also performed with her, said on Instagram that it was “difficult to conceive of a world without her”.
British singer Adele thanked Franklin on Instagram, writing that she could not remember a day of her life without Franklin’s music.
Mariah Carey referenced Franklin’s songs in her tweet, saying, “I say a BIG prayer for you. You will forever have all of our RESPECT.”
Other celebrities from the music industry came forward to pay their respects.
The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance – a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation at St John The Divine Cathedral. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday – and that meant so much to me. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. @arethasings #RIP #ArethaFranklin #QueenOfSoul @ejaf
An ‘iconic symbol of black pride’
Franklin was also known for her role in the civil rights movement. Her song ‘Respect’ became an anthem for feminism and civil rights.
Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson visited her in the hospice where she was receiving treatment just the day before she died. In an interview with AP, he said, “The most consistent voice in music for 60 years has been Aretha Franklin’s voice… The world of music has lost a bit of its soul.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organisation that Franklin donated to, wrote that Franklin had “made sure Black women wouldn’t be ignored”.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) tweeted that the singer was an “iconic symbol of black pride”.
Aretha Franklin’s influence on music and civil rights has been felt across the world. But the ‘Queen of Soul’ didn’t only receive tributes on earth, with even the moon paying its respects.