This morning we heard the news of the death of Aretha Franklin, aged 76, of pancreatic cancer.
Aretha accompanied me throughout my life. Her rendition of Otis Redding’s RESPECT and Carole King’s Natural Woman are iconic songs of our times. Her voice inspired us, but she was also active in the civil rights movement. RESPECT has been championed by the women’s movement. When asked about whether she was a leader of the women’s movement, she said no, that job belonged to Gloria Steinem. But if her song was an inspiration for women’s independence, she said, “all the better.”
Aretha Franklin got her start in church, in gospel music. She sang at the inauguration of three presidents. She always had a positive attitude, in spite of difficulties she suffered. Throughout her life, she maintained her faith in God. She fulfilled God’s wish for her in using her God-given talents in music to be all that she could be. She played the piano as well as sang. No one who heard her could help but be moved by her, because she put her heart and soul into every song she sang.
To remember her now, in memory, is to have hope. Hope for the end of these difficult, hateful times. To quote Aretha (and this may not be an exact quote – I scribbled it down after I heard it on TV this morning):
Don’t just shine your light; shine your light on whatever is in a dark place.
Let’s remember Aretha Franklin by shining the light of hope on our country and on our world.