Aretha Franklin is a national treasure. The ultimate singing diva should have a statue somewhere in downtown Detroit, as she’s one of the city’s greatest living legends. Franklin has long reigned as the Queen of Soul and though many young singers revere and respect her, none have come even close to replacing her. With classic recordings behind her like “Chain of Fools,” “Respect,” “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” and other classic soul hits, Franklin has no peer. And though she’s getting older, like we all are, the feisty Franklin takes no mess from anyone who tries to slight her or her legacy. Here’s why we love us some Aretha.
1. SHE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE
Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration was a history making moment in itself. Of course, when Franklin was charged with singing “My Country Tis of Thee” to the nation and the world, everyone expected a magical moment. But what the world didn’t expect was how Franklin’s hat would become as much a part of the day as the pomp and circumstance. The now-famous grey felt cloche with a rhinestone-studded bow became its own news item and turned its Seoul-born designer Luke Song, into a worldwide sensation. The hat now resides in the Smithsonian, but will head out on tour this year as part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit. Franklin may not consider this a diva moment, but only a true diva could stir a global response with not just her music, but her choice of headgear. Watch the performance here:
2. SHE KNOWS HOW TO OWN A MOMENT
In 1998, famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti was taken ill right before the Grammys where he was scheduled to sing “NessumDorma,” a classic opera recording. Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich remembered the Aretha Franklin had sung the song two nights before at pre-Grammy event and he asked her to step in for the ailing Pavarotti. She did, with no rehearsal, leading to one of the most famous on-the-fly Grammy performances in the show’s history. Watch the performance here: