Did I ever tell how much I love Aretha Franklin? I am reminded again how great she is in so many ways after the Kennedy Center Honors clip that has been making the rounds on social media. I just love her! I am talking ‘love’ as in ‘worship.’ I love the fact that the woman is a great singer, never stops working and still has the proverbial ‘it’ after decades in the spotlight. That is the no-brainer part.
But what makes her stand apart is the fact that while she’s working the THE NUMBER ONE DIVA angle [yes, I meant to make that all caps], throwing down fur coats on stage, she also keeps it really real. Everything about her is a level above cool. Yeah, she’s wearing a fur coat and a golden gown, but somehow, she still doesn’t come across as glitzy or snobby. Her humility comes through. Her thankfulness is real, not part of the show. I love her for that!
She’s overweight and has no problem wearing her sleeveless gown, throwing her arms wide to her audience. Her face is the face of a 73 year old woman, which is exactly what she is. Her skin is lined and beautifully expressive, not a pinched lesson in plastic surgery. I totally love her for that!
After decades of being a star, Grammy’s out the wazoo, several lifetime achievement awards and being the first woman to be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin actually went to music school to learn classical piano in the 1990’s! That is a move of someone who is always willing to be better, take a step further, and know you are never above it all. I so love her for that!
Many artists give you the impression that they are doing you a big favor by allowing you to watch them perform. Her attitude is the exact opposite. She offers us her song. She shares her voice. She’s truly behaves like she is there for the common good somehow. . . like, well . . . a Queen. And I really love her for that!
About ten years ago, I got to see her perform in a relatively small theater. There was an issue with sound engineering and the woman stopped the show, saying, “These nice people paid to come hear us play, let’s give them a great show!” She left the stage, then came back after everything was fixed and sang practically her whole songbook for the following two hours. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever experienced.
And then there is stuff like this:
So go on, Aretha, throw down that fur coat – even PETA won’t hold it against you. As the Queen of Soul, R&B legend, and my personal living deity, thank you. Long may you continue to reign.
PS – Do you want to drop by for lunch some time? Y’know, next time you are on your way to visit the O’bamas or something. . . .