Aretha Franklin – The Queen of Soul Was Rock Steady from Start to Finish


Tribute to an Icon Who Made us Groove

Most of us can remember where we were when certain major news stories hit the airwaves. It could be the day of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the passing of Michael Jackson or Prince. These events leave us thinking about what our loved ones or music icons mean to our everyday experiences.

Then of course there’s the news of the passing of Aretha Franklin. She became known as the Queen of Soul for her musical prowess that started at a young age. But it’s not only remembering where we were when that news first broke. It’s also about how Ms. Franklin made us feel in our coming and going.

Long before Video Music Awards were a thing, Franklin was a chart-topper on the Billboard scene. She became the youngest inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She’s also the most decorated female Grammy winner of all time. That’s another way for saying Franklin was ‘rock steady’ from start to finish.

As the tributes pour in from past Presidents & showbiz figures, we remember Franklin as a person whose music through soul went beyond the mold. Her work was not limited to one genre of music. Franklin made hits across pop, gospel, R&B, jazz and even a little country. If for nothing else her music had S.A.S.S.

Ms. Franklin didn’t get lost in the diva-girl persona that seems to cloud some artists. Her music was usually built around a Storyline. In some cases it became Anthemic. It had a Soundtrack quality to the groove. But it also had Swizzle by delivering ‘soul with sizzle.’ That‘s the Aretha many came to love.

Recording artists, music industry pioneers and fans might not all agree on whether Michael Jackson was more talented than Prince. But they’ll likely agree that Franklin was in a class of her own. She left us with memories from her music that’ll be around for a long time. She also left us some takeaways from her life.

When it comes to the intersection of American history and pop culture Ms. Franklin might also want us to:

  1. Raise our voice in local as well as high places.
  2. Raise our value in a career game and other spaces.
  3. Raise our volume of impact that leaves a legacy for the ages.


Franklin had the chance at an early age to develop her singing voice at her father’s Church. After honing her chops there she went on to become a hit-maker and crowd-pleaser. She even had the chance to sing at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama wearing that fancy hat which is now at the Smithsonian.

When you look at her music you find the evolution of a career across three record companies. Columbia Records introduced us to her voice as sales weren’t quite through the roof just yet. Then Atlantic Records took us through mid-career as she became a household name. And still the hits kept coming.

Then there’s the partnership with Arista Records which brought a more hip sound to her music. This is probably the period for which her work speaks volumes. More people both young and old came to fully appreciate her longevity in the music biz. Her Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 was like icing on the cake.

Many remember that moving performance of Natural Woman that had the audience drooling at her feet. Even The Obamas were on a Franklin high. So the jury might be out on whether the favorite female artist these days is Cardi B or Nicki Minaj. But there’s no mistaking that Ms. Aretha Franklin was Soul Sister #1.

Tracks: Jennifer Hudson – I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) –

Fantasia – Aretha Franklin Tribute –


How Labor Day Can Provide a Fresh Spark for the Next Great American Movement


Trivia: Which TV talk show host was disappointed by Nicki Minaj’s VMA spat with Miley Cyrus? (Answer below)

Speculation continues to swirl as to whether Vice President Joe Biden will join the Presidential race. Beyond his recent visit to Florida touting education initiatives, he also plans to join-in Labor Day events. Maybe the VP sees how Labor Day can provide a fresh spark for the next great American movement.

Over the past few election cycles there’s been a trend to highlight what’s affecting everyday Americans. The Tea Party crowd focused their attention on government inefficiencies. The Occupy Wall Street crowd pointed-out income inequalities. Now it’s the Black Lives Matter crowd dealing with social/legal injustices.

The pattern keeps repeating under different “street names.” It’s as if there’s an undercurrent of distrust/displeasure that keeps sounding the alarm. Maybe nobody is listening to the cries coming from all corners of the map. If Biden or others show they hear the people it would help to fire-up this movement.

The U.S. Department of Labor reminds us that ever since the start of Labor Day celebrations, it’s been a time for families to relax and have fun. Culturally it’s seen as the unofficial end to the summer season. But the holiday is really dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

What if it were also seen as a start (restart) for the unofficial push towards the next great American movement in social/economic transformation? It might mean modeling what happens when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. We must find ways to give wings to people, communities and dreams so they fly.

Maybe that’s where the Tea Party and Occupy movements left-off. The country’s 21st century social metamorphosis is waiting for wings. So, it will take leaders who can assemble teams to work on each wing. Not Democratic wing or Republican wing but “United States Airlines Wings.” (USA)

Remember when airlines gave kids wings? It was one of the greatest feelings that you had “arrived.” The flight attendant didn’t politicize your ideals, marginalize your ethnicity or categorize your background. America, if politicians were like flight attendants more folks would enjoy the feeling of having arrived.

Answer: Wendy Williams

Groove-tracks: Andra Day – “Rise Up” –

Little Mix – “Wings” –