Remembering the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin’s ties to Augusta

CSRA News

Music fans around the world are mourning the loss of Aretha Franklin. 

For more than 50 years, Franklin was known as “The Queen of Soul.” Her biggest hit… “Respect” … spent a whopping two months at the top of the billboard pop chart in 1967.

Franklin died Thursday morning after she spent several days in hospice care in her hometown of Detroit.  She was 76.

“Her spirit lives on, along with her good music,” Deanna Brown, James Brown’s daughter, expressed.

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul, lifetime of devotion… with a gift, many say, came straight from God. Her first love was Gospel music. 

Deanna Brown first met Franklin in 1992– When her father, James Brown, won the lifetime achievement award at the Grammy’s: “She is a gracious woman. She is funny. She loves to crack jokes.”

Brown saw her for the last time in 2016 at the Detroit Music Festival. She explained even then she was sick, but when she took the stage, you wouldn’t notice: “…but she still looked so great. She still sounded so good… the music.:”

Aretha and James performed together several times. They even wrote a song together called ‘Jam in a Jar.’

The Queen of Soul broke through the music industry in 1956, during the civil rights movement, “It was not easy, but she made it,” Brown told us. 

And even now, she continues to sing to the souls of the younger generation… like Charleston Lee. She grew up listening to Aretha. When she went to the James Brown Music Academy, Lee’s favorite songs to perform were the ones she grew up listening to. 

Lee wrote the artist for the first time when she was six years old: “She told me it was great to hear from a fan that was my age.”

Then in 2013, her dream came true: She met her role model. Aretha put on a show in Atlanta, and Lee said when she met her, all of her built-up anxiety faded away. Aretha even called her by name: “I sang ‘Rock Steady’ for her, one of her songs. That was one of my favorite songs by her.”

“I am thankful that God gave us an Aretha Franklin who kids can go and imitate and not get in trouble by imitating someone like that,” Brown said. 

Earlier this year, Aretha Franklin hand picked Jennifer Hudson to star in her biography movie. Hudson will be playing the role of the Queen of Soul.

Photojournalist: Antony Sherrod

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