The ‘Queen of Soul’, Aretha Franklin, has died at age 76

Abby Pikett, Staff Writer

One of the most influential soul singers of all time, Aretha Franklin, recently passed away. The proclaimed “Queen of Soul” lost her battle with pancreatic cancer at her home in Detroit at 9:50 a.m. August 16 surrounded by her friends and family. After news of her death was announced, fans flooded the internet with kind and caring messages to show their support to her family.

Having performed for the last time at an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York last November, Franklin died at the age of 76. Though the singer had been reported to be in failing health for years, she kept her personal struggles private.

“She was a woman, a black woman, and in the music industry at the time when she started things, it was not like an easy thing to just do. The struggle that her success represents and the fact that she had that success is just a remarkable thing,” said Michael Santangelo, chorus teacher at Athens Drive.

Franklin posing for a seated portrait, showing her engagement ring from the 1960’s

Although Franklin’s death feels like a tragedy to many, her legacy inspired fans all over the world. Franklin was not only “one of the greatest soul singers of all time,” according to Rolling Stone, but also a cultural icon and civil rights activist for her time. She stood as a symbol of strength and women’s liberation and portrayed these qualities in her music. To pay their tribute, Franklin’s fans left flowers and a crown on her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in Los Angeles.

“[Soul] music makes me feel peaceful. It gets me through my everyday life and hard times. Music empowers me,” said Natalie Ndiforamang, sophomore.

With over a six-decade career, Franklin left undeniable imprints on generations of fans. During her career, she placed over 100 singles in the Billboard charts. These included 17 Top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits. Franklin also stood as a feminist icon, being the first female to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“Soul music gets that name, ‘soul music’, because it comes from deep inside you and there’s actually nothing better to get people to externalize their feelings than music,” said Santangelo.

The daughter of a preacher, chart topping singer, women’s rights symbol and civil rights activist will be missed by many. Aretha Franklin may be gone, but her legacy will undeniably live on.

“It takes, as a performer, not only a lot of talent and a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work, but the ability to rise above what’s going on around you and just be like, ‘This is me, this is what I do and here it is,’” said Santangelo.