Aretha Franklin was a joy to us all. I loved her! (After all, we shared the same birthday–March 25th.) When I was young, I always wanted to sing like her so I would practice her songs very loudly; over and over. I was a skinny Italian girl who grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch Country so I didn’t know much about R&B or soul music. What I did know was that Aretha’s music made me smile and my feet would automatically go into a happy dance whenever I heard her sing. At some point I realized I didn’t have the talent or drive to hone my voice so, instead, I have always kept her songs in my playlists and, when I am sad, the pure magic of her voice picks me right up.
She made for herself an amazing life. She was not a Diva or Drama Queen like many of today’s artists. Her life was full of hard knocks and tireless work. She commented more than once about those challenging times…
It’s the rough side of the mountain that’s the easiest to climb; the smooth side doesn’t have anything for you to hang on to.
The “Queen of Soul” was the first woman to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was one of the best-selling female artists in history with 75 million records sold worldwide in her career. She lived her life with grace, honor and humility and was grateful for each day:
Every birthday is a gift. Every day is a gift.
She is one incredible role model, which is why at The International Center for Women in Leadership, we couldn’t let her time on earth go uncelebrated. Thank you Aretha for sharing your talent and giving us joy.