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 –


When “Enough is Enough” Becomes What The People Cry-out to the Politicos


Trivia: Who’s been named the host of this year’s MTV Video Music Awards? (Answer below)

Imagine Apple or Google having the same software defect affect their users over and over again? If it’s not fixed, someone would get fired or the company might see a drop in business. But it seems that’s not true across the board. Even when “enough is enough” becomes what the people cry-out to the politicos.

In the space of a few weeks we’ve seen senseless violence in Charleston SC, then Chattanooga TN and more recently in Lafayette LA. After a few days of wall-to-wall coverage in the media, the stories tend to disappear from headlines. Maybe more attention is given to ‘breaking news’ than given to ‘broken news.’

Some say certain laws in the country are broken. For example, there’re those who point to the issue of illegal crossing at the border. They want to close those loopholes. But not much is heard from those same people when it comes to closing the loopholes for weapons falling into the wrong hands. How come?

We joined together after 9-11 to address loopholes in air travel. We tightened things up at airports and across airlines. But with this spate of senseless violence it seems there’s no similar sense of urgency. So, if there’s a no-fly list, would it help to have a ‘no-buy’ list related to firearms as we do with cigarettes?

Every software company has a process for handling what’s known as a ‘severity 1’ problem. It involves a rapid response on the front-end and a root cause analysis on the back-end. This means getting past the immediate loss (downtime) in service, then correcting any programming defect in a future system update.

It seems after we get past the immediate loss of life in a tragedy, we return to the regularly scheduled programming. This means the system defect remains in place. Then after a while, it flairs up again and we repeat the same old broken cycle. That approach is often described as a stepping stone to insanity.

Citizen groups and many politicos have said repeatedly that we’re in a ‘severity 1’ and that something’s broken. But not much seems to change. It’s unacceptable to keep seeing innocent lives taken whether due to negligence, neglect or just ‘gaming the system.’ It’s unreal to be playing games with people’s lives.

Answer: Miley Cyrus

Groove-tracks: Mary J. Blige ft U2 – “One” –

Third World – “State of Siege” –

Julianne Hough’s Halloween Costume Went Up In Smokes


Trivia: What’s the name of the actress who plays “Crazy Eyes” in a Netflix series? (Answer below)

Halloween is in the air with lots of costumes to judge. The early favorite seems to be a Miley Cyrus flashback to the VMAs. Of-course, there are the usual suspects of a more tame variety. This is a time when ghosts and goblins might show up in jokes. Well, Julianne Hough’s costume went up in smokes.

She attended a L.A. party in blackface dressed as “Crazy Eyes.” That’s a Character from the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” The show is set in an environment with orange jumpsuits and the like. The costume backlash blew-up on social media. Hough has since apologized for offending others.

The history of Halloween and blackface makes this an interesting situation. One evolved out of a Christian-influenced tradition rooted in remembering the dead. The latter one deals with a 19th century social practice of demeaning black people. For Hough to bring them together might make secular sense.

But let’s flip the scrip and look at a different combination related to spiritual sense. Whether you dress-up or not, it’s important to play-up one’s anointing and covering. Your anointing is that special gifting that makes you rock. Your covering is that special authority that instructs and protects how you rock and roll.

It seems Hough had the idea to show-up in a costume that would be seen as popular. But instead she was received in a way that was controversial. How people feel about “Orange is the New Black” is for another day. But every day there’s a true calling that’s trying to get out of many an inner prison.

Tip: Your true calling might start out as spiritual and end up as secular or social but can keep its original intent if it contributes a benefit that has soul-force popularity.

Answer: Uzo Aduba