In life and in death, the late Aretha Franklin continues to make history with an enduring legacy that demands "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."
On July 4, the Queen of Soul's recent solo rendition of "Never Gonna Break My Faith," featuring the Boys Choir of Harlem, ascended to the top spot on Billboard's Gospel Digital Song Sales, cementing Franklin's streak of No. 1 hits in every decade since the 1960s.
The song was released on Juneteenth (June 19), commemorating the day in 1865 when all enslaved African-Americans were told they were free. "Never Gonna Break My Faith" resonates with the uprisings against police brutality and systemic racism today, including lyrics, "My Lord, won’t you help them to understand/That when someone takes the life of an innocent man/Well they’ve never really won, and all they’ve really done/Is set the soul free, where it’s supposed to be.”
Originally released in 2006, the Grammy Award-winning song was co-written by Bryan Adams for the movie Bobby.
“When I wrote this song, I was channeling Aretha, never thinking that she’d ever actually sing the song,” Adams said in a statement. “The thought was to write a hymn, something that would try and articulate the feeling of faith, and that even though you might have lost something, there would always be an inner light to guide you."
Franklin will also be honored with the release of MGM biopic Respect later this year, featuring Jennifer Hudson in Franklin's handpicked starring role. Directed by acclaimed theater director Liesl Tommy, Respect portrays Franklin’s life from her roots in her childhood Detroit church to her reign in the spotlight as one of music's biggest stars through the 60's. Though Respect was originally slated for release in the fall, the film is now scheduled for a limited run release on Christmas Day, with wide release in early 2021.