I knew what the lead of our show was going to be as soon as I saw the alert: “Aretha Franklin Dies at 76.” I was certain we’d go to the Apollo in Harlem and get sound from Reverend Al Sharpton. I knew all the stereotypical tributes would be done for Aretha. But, I hope you more personal memories from someone who was changed by her gift.
I thought about my own Aretha memory. I was trying to get over my first major heartbreak when I heard Aretha sing, “It Hurts Like Hell.” The song was on the “Waiting To Exhale” soundtrack and it spoke to the intense pain I was feeling. I knew when I heard it that I wasn’t the first and I wouldn’t be the last person to agonize over a breakup.
After my heart mended, I went back and listened to more of the music from the Queen of Soul. I understood why people loved her voice. It embodied all the faith, struggle, pain, fight, independence, joy and sorrow we all go through.
I can play Aretha’s songs anytime I want. I even heard one on my way home on the public address system at New York Penn Station. But, I can’t ever see her in the flesh in concert anymore. I’m just grateful that although her body has faded her spirit and music will live on. I can only hope I leave behind a legacy that will touch someone’s soul the way she moved mine.
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