From Harlem to the Moon: What Aretha Franklin meant to America

Accomplishments? Yes, Aretha Franklin had them.

  • 44 Grammy nominations
  • 18 Grammy awards
  • 112 charted Billboard singles
  • 77 Hot 100 entries
  • 17 top-ten pop singles
  • 100 R&B entries
  • 20 #1 R&B singles
  • 75 million records sold worldwide
  • 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — the first woman to do so
  • 2005 induction to the UK Music Hall of Fame — only the second woman up to that point
  • 2012 induction into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame
  • Cover of Time magazine, June, 1968
  • Received Hollywood Walk Of Fame star in 1979 10 honorary degrees

These are just some of the accomplishments of the singer, who died August 16 at age 76 of pancreatic cancer. 



US President Barack Obama fist bumps with singer Aretha Franklin who sung during a farewell ceremony for Attorney General Eric Holder at the Justice Department February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Her parents split when she was seven years old, her mother dying of a heart attack when she was 10. It was soon after that Franklin began to play piano by ear, almost as if she turned that grief into something that transcended. 

Beginning with gospel songs, she started to make a name for herself. This brought her to California with her father, and a fateful meeting with Sam Cooke.

When she turned 18, she told her father that she wanted to follow in Cooke’s footsteps, and moved to New York to begin charting her success in the music industry.


The words 'Aretha Makes Me Feel Like A Natural Woman' are seen at the stairwell leading to the Franklin Street subway station in New York on August 16, 2018. - 'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin passed away August 16, 2018 in Detroit at the age of 76. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP/ Getty Images)

Memorable and meaningful moments in her life were plenty. She toured with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and sang at his funeral; offered to post bail for African American political activist Angela Davis when she was arrested, citing, “I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace,”; she sang 'My Country, ’Tis of Thee' at Barack Obama’s first inauguration 

There’s so much more about her, and her life, that has been recounted and told in the form of stories, that there’s no way to do it all justice. 

So here are some of the quotes on Twitter from various people and organizations in recognition of who she was:


Finally, there is the time, in 2015, when she sang, 'A Natural Woman' at the Kennedy Center in celebration of Carole King’s official medal from the White House. Barack Obama himself commented on it later. You can see him wiping a tear from his eye early on in the below clip.

"American history wells up when Aretha sings," President Obama explained. "Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll—the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.”

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

Videos
  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less