The Day Aretha Died

With only an hour of relaxation time before I had to go work, I placed my beach blanket on the grass of my local park and sprawled out. Breathe in the fresh air, sip some cold water, and hopefully read one more chapter in my book; that was the plan for my precious 60 minutes of pre-modeling leisure time. Within minutes, the sound of that voice – Aretha Franklin’s voice – began soaring through the park, pumped through a sound system. Some of the greatest songs ever being sung by one of the greatest singers ever – first ‘Chain of Fools’, then ‘Baby I Love You’, then ‘Dr Feelgood’, then ‘Think’. Where was it coming from? Several yards away from me, where the Hip to Hip Theater Company was starting to set up for their production of Shakespeare’s King Lear in the park that night. The news of Aretha Franklin’s death had broken just that morning, and the actors and the crew decided to pay homage to Aretha as they unloaded their equipment, lighting, wardrobe, and stage sets. I took this picture:

That voice, oh that voice, permeated our Queens park and it sounded absolutely phenomenal. Out in the open air. On a beautiful afternoon. And it wasn’t long before some of the company members started dancing around and bopping to the music, as theater people will do 🙂

I’ve been a huge fan of Aretha Franklin since as long as I can remember. I was a twelve year old girl holding a hairbrush as a microphone and singing along with “Natural Woman” in front of the mirror in my bedroom. Those were the years before Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and Adele, and all the female vocalists who followed in Aretha’s footsteps.

This is the Queen of Soul covering the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” in Amsterdam, 1968, the year I was born. You can skip ahead to around 2:40 when Aretha is announced and makes her way to the stage, and then proceeds to bring the house down while getting pelted with flowers. She’s exciting, joyful, full of lady swagger. Sit your ass down Mick Jagger. SIT. DOWN. This is Music Monday with Ms Franklin. RIP.

4 thoughts on “The Day Aretha Died

  1. Bill says:

    Nice. That was quite a year — the whole world seemed to be changing at once — and she added a voice of undeniable quality to the mix. (Funny — I keep forgetting that these are “oldies” for you. But real talent never truly does out of fashion.)

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      The oldies radio station here, WCBS.fm, now plays the music of my youth in regular rotation. Talk about feeling old! Songs from my senior year in college are the new “oldies”. Yikes!
      Yeah, 1968 was quite a significant year, in so many ways. On top of all the political and social upheaval, it was a tremendous year for music. Makes me kind of proud 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

      Claudia

  2. Derek says:

    Another from my generation has left the earth. Well her death was bound to happen, she had been ill with cancer for the past several years. She gas been great singing OTIS Redding’s “Respect” and Carol Kong’s “Natural woman”. She was an angelic voice of the R&B community. When Pavarotti got sick, ARETHA took over to sing opera. That was the highlight for me. REST IN Peace queen say hi to OTIS in rock n roll heaven

    • artmodel says:

      Derek,

      That moment when Aretha filled in for Pavarotti was memorable. What a performance. She was such a brilliant interpreter. Truly one-of-a-kind.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

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