Musician of the Month: Aretha Franklin

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A in 1942 Aretha Franklin has become synonymous with soul music. Her breathtaking performances twinned with her impeccable stage presence have made her an icon.  

The world had not heard a voice like Franklin’s — one that felt so modern and captured the range of emotions felt by the U.S.A. at the time, especially during the political, cultural and racial difficulties of the 1960s and ’70s. Her voice was characteristic of her gospel upbringing. It was her ability to use her powerful gospel voice, and bring elements of jazz and blues into her songs, which stood her out from the crowd. One of her most recognisable songs is Say A Little Prayer which is about a woman’s concern for someone who has gone to the Vietnam War.

Aretha spent much of her life involved in the struggle for both civil rights and women’s rights. She gave money to civil rights groups. She also performed at benefits and protests. Her songs “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” became anthems of these movements for social change. She was also a strong supporter for Native American and Indigenous Peoples’ rights worldwide.