Aretha Franklin’s musical talents were legion. Incomparable singer that she was, it is hardly surprising that multiple critics have identified her as the greatest voice in popular music of the 20th century. Labeled the “Queen of Soul,” she was in actuality a renaissance woman of many genres, from jazz to opera. Although sometimes underrated, she was also acknowledged to be a superb pianist and musical arranger. And let’s not forget how songs like “Respect” became de facto anthems of the civil rights and feminist movements of the day.
What is too often overlooked is the behind-the-scenes role that Ms. Franklin played in directly supporting the civil rights movement. Her father was Clarence L. Franklin, a famous Detroit-based preacher, civil rights activist and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. One of his most notable ventures into the activist arena was to organize the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom. Continue reading