Aretha Franklin has left her indelible mark on the world! Her physical presence will be missed but her extraordinary voice and music will be with us forever.
What a pleasure it has been living and working in Detroit and having an opportunity to see and enjoy Aretha, the Queen of Soul, up close. My memories of her are fond and full of R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
This great songstress was more than a musical legend. She was a Detroit booster extraordinaire. She loved this city where she sat at the feet of her famous father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, and learned first-hand about the importance of religion, gospel music and America’s modern civil rights movement. This is the environment that helped to shape and mold Aretha. She was comfortable with world leaders but never forgot about the average person on the street. Family was deeply important to her and she enjoyed showcasing their talent. She was a people person who constantly gave back to her community.
Even with all of her success, she was still trying to help others in my last phone conversation with her. Aretha called me after a broadcast of our Sunday morning program, Spotlight on the News. She had been closely watching the revitalization of Detroit. But she was concerned about in what ways downtown was coming back. She told me she was excited to see the comeback but felt something important was missing. She wanted to talk to the leader of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation about building a world-class supper club for mature adults who liked top-notch entertainment and food. Aretha said a healthy downtown must come back for more than just young people. I put her in touch with some local business leaders but in the end there wasn’t enough time to pull off her dream. Nevertheless, her heart was in the right place!
Aretha will be remembered by millions in many different ways: her music, her civic commitment, her cooking and her love of life. But now that she is gone, Christmas in Detroit won’t be quite the same again. I’ll miss Ms. A’s black tie holiday soirées where friends from all walks of life attended. It was the perfect way to end a busy year and kickoff a new one, Aretha-style!