Lauded by Sony Music as “one of the most iconic voices in music history” after her death earlier this month, Aretha Franklin leaves behind an incomparable legacy. The numbers – 42 studio albums and an estimated 75 million sold worldwide – add mere statistics to a life that changed music forever. Today, her funeral takes place in Detroit, with Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande and Faith Hill among the artists set to pay tribute.
In the new issue of Music Week, out now, we gather a group of top names from the music world to pay tribute to the singer, who became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
Ten years previously, Franklin sang at US President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Two more such performances followed, for Bill Clinton in 1993 and Barack Obama in 2009. By then, her status as a revolutionary artist who had broken boundaries and opened doors for future generations was set in stone.
Music Week asked the business for some of the reasons why, read on for a selection of their tributes. Subscribers can read the article in full online here.
Kanya King, founder, MOBO Awards
“Aretha Franklin’s phenomenal performances on hits like Respect, A Natural Woman and Think not only solidified her as one of the greatest singers in living memory, but also saw her rise as an icon for feminism and the civil rights movement. Aretha Franklin’s legacy transcends music as she represented so much more. She is a symbol of American history; having been a vessel for racial equality, hope, support, strength and impactful change. Not many artists can claim that, but Aretha Franklin certainly did.”
Jorja Smith, artist
“My mum would play Aretha Franklin in the house all the time. I remember learning the words to Say A Little Prayer when I was 11, I would even try to sing the backing vocals. Her legacy will never die, a real soul.”
Alex Boateng, president of urban, Island Records
“Aretha was the backbone of music in my household, for my parents as much as myself. I have so many memories attached to her songs and her voice. Professionally, she opened doors and provided opportunities for black female vocalists worldwide with her talent and tenacity. There are some successful artists today [who are] probably just here because of her existence and success. RIP Aretha.”
She taught us how to be outspoken and not compromise
Clara Amfo, presenter, BBC Radio 1
“Aretha was what I call one of the holy blueprint artists, setting a standard for the artists that would come after her. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Adele, Ariana Grande... The list is endless. They are because she was and is forever The Queen.”
Ray Blk, artist
“As an R&B and soul singer, Aretha means so much to me. From the incredible vocals that I think most of us singers use as a template, to how she paved the way for black female artists. She taught us to be outspoken and not to compromise.”
Nile Rodgers, artist & producer
“When it comes to Aretha, words cannot do her justice. You have to listen to the music, to the frequency, to the voice. She was incomparable. I’m not just blessed to have known her, I am better as a result. The good news is she’ll be with us forever thanks to the magnificent recordings. It’s a pleasure to play them every day!”