From David Nathan, music historian/author, acknowledged Aretha Franklin archivist and founder of

“After a 24-year-old Aretha Franklin signed with Atlantic Records on November 21, 1966, her life was never the same. From the songs on her very first Atlantic album, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)  through many of the half-a-dozen LPs that launched her into a new realm of global success within those first few years, Aretha’s ever-growing audience often conjectured that she was singing about her own life and although she would remark, when asked, if what she was choosing to record and perform were autobiographical, she would simply reply with a polite ‘sometimes’…..

While Aretha’s music appealed across the board, indeed, across the water, there has been little doubt that many of those early Atlantic recordings had a particular resonance for women, at a time when few of her peers were voicing the everyday realities of love lost and gained through their music.   It seems fitting in our acknowledging Aretha’s legacy in the week of the fourth anniversary of her transition (August 16, 2018) to hear perspectives from a woman’s point of view…”


Belinda Lipscomb
Lead vocalist with the legendary group, Midnight Star

When I think of all the singers and vocal stylist I’ve listened to and studied,  Aretha was and is, one of those at the top of my list I consider “great”.  She was one of those singers little girls like me wanted to be like.  Her presence, power, range…….”huh “….not many vocalists are born with that.

All anyone had to do was listen to her sing and tell her life’s stories in each song and you felt what she felt.  It was as if every song she sung was an experience that had played out in her life ,that only she could sing about and we believed her. I remember when I heard “Until You Come Back To Me” and then saw that she played piano on this tune, I practiced and learned to sing and play it too!  I wasn’t even close to Aretha!

There were other songs that I liked and sung like (her  version of ) “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Ain’t No Way,” “Don’t Play That Song” and so many others.  But when I heard the gospel album ,“Amazing Grace,” I was done.  I knew then she had an anointing on her that enabled her sing just about anything and always made it feel good.  Aretha was not only a great singer but she was a gifted piano player and songwriter.

I loved her for being who she was with no excuses.

I learned through her, to be unapologetic for being me.

I’m so grateful to have lived in a time when you could really hear, see, and learn from real gifted singers and musicians. Those were the days.  I’ve said a lot but not enough to really express the many elements that were and are Aretha Franklin.

What I do know is, there will never be another…


Gina Glass

Growing up, my mom was the strongest black woman I knew…and when I saw her echoing the sentiments of Aretha like “respect begets respect” or “women deserve equal respect”, it showed me that this artists’ message was strong and great. It didn’t hurt that her singing voice was great too!”


“Aretha Franklin definitely made an impact on my life as a young girl because she taught me how to “spell” RESPECT as in ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T.’   Moreover. Aretha was a positive woman that sang about the big three, God, love and friendship! I’m forever grateful that I was at the NAACP awards prior to her passing. ”


“I always felt there was a longing in Aretha’s songs growing up like “(I gotta find me an) Angel,” ”Since You Been Gone”:  her messages seemed to aspire to teach things like “Think,” “Respect. ” She was very inspirational to me growing up as a little African- American girl.”


Featured image with kind courtesy Matt Jones

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