Unanimously dubbed the “queen of soul”, Aretha Franklin was possessed of a prodigious talent. One of Rolling Stone’s “100 greatest singers of all time”, and with 18 Grammy awards, she was an undisputed legend in her lifetime.
Franklin died on August 16, 2018 at her home in Detroit, Michigan. She had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, her long-serving publicist Gwendolyn Quinn confirmed.
Here are five songs from her gigantic repertoire to help us remember Aretha Franklin (and have her on our playlists).
Sisters Are Doin’ it For Themselves (1985)
Franklin was a fierce feminist and, in this collaboration with the British pop duo Eurhythmics, she sang a powerful song commemorating the second wave of feminism. Featuring powerful imagery of female liberation of the time, the song had lines like “We’re comin’ out of the kitchen” and “The inferior sex got a new exterior”. Fun fact: singer Tina Turner, who was originally offered the song, found it “too feminist”.
(You Make me Feel like) a Natural Woman (1968)
This song is a favourite among many artistes, with Adele, Celine Dion, and Mary J Blige having released their own covers. Carole King, who helped write the song, also released her own version in 1971. Even Rod Stewart felt like a “natural man” covering Franklin’s song in 1974, but the original version is arguably the best of the lot.
I Say a Little Prayer (1968)
Although it was originally performed by Dionne Warwick, Franklin covered the song, making it her own. Her rendition earned a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal performance, and the song has now become a classic from her repertoire.
Dr Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business) (1967)
Leave it to Franklin’s musical genius to incorporate her sexual energy in a gospel number. Led by a piano, the song increases in intensity with every verse until the grand ending where she wants the world to know that she doesn’t need a doctor because “the man sure makes [her] feel real good”.
Continuing her legacy as a feminist icon, Franklin released this mid-tempo song to let her male counterparts know that they needed to respect her to gain her love and affection. To those who still won’t understand, Franklin very famously spelled the word out, telling them to find out what it means.