Aretha Franklin came to Washington to sing – and for history, obituaries

As a 21-year-old Aretha Franklin worked on her singing voice in New York in the summer of 1963, her father, Rev. CL Franklin, raced to finalize the planned March on Washington.

Almost five decades later, Franklin found himself in Washington and performed "My Country" Tis of Tea "at the inauguration of the nation's first black president.

It was not the first time she sang for a leader of the free world.

Throughout her career, the Queen of Soul & # 39; often back to the capital of the country for performances that sometimes brought her into line with important moments in American history. She sang for diplomats, welcomed emperors and brought one president – Barack Obama – to tears. Franklin accepted many awards and acted for charities and civil rights organizations in Washington. She even got a heated argument in the White House with another nameless diva that led to the two performers reportedly exchanging obscene gestures.

For the Memphis, Tennessee-born, Detroit-raised Franklin, it is not surprising that she found it herself in Washington late in her career. Franklin surrounded herself with the politics of the day and often referred to her experiences alongside episodes of American history in speeches, interviews and her autobiography from 1999, "Aretha: From These Roots."

For example, she noted in her book that she was born three months after Pearl Harbor and her father supported the Democrat Adlai Stevenson as president in 1956. "Dad was a faithful, lifelong democrat, like me," she wrote.

Franklin also said that family stories about the historical narrated treatment of African Americans, from slavery to part-rent – something they would never forget. "My grandmother, whom we all called Big Mama, had worked on the fields themselves and told us stories about those difficult days," Franklin wrote in her autobiography. "Regardless of how much cotton you have picked, you were always guilty of the man."

After Franklin had found success, she began to earn money. "I was planning to enjoy it," she said. "I have tithes and gave to many charities, including Jesse Jackson's Operation Breadbasket, the NAACP, Operation PUSH, UNICEF and Easter Seals."

Franklin hit the stage because soul and rhythm and blues had replaced jazz as the favorite music of young African Americans. Artists such as Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald, although respected and admired, fell out of favor with the younger generation. As a leader in the new soul movement Franklin wins credibility and democratic groups and civil rights organizations seek her for performances that have eventually landed her in Washington or near political power centers.

In 1968, the Democrats asked her to sing the national anthem at the Chicago democratic convention. As she prepared to sing, police and anti-Vietnam war activists stumbled into the streets. Franklin performed, although she forgot a few lines famous.

Then came the disco era and the sale of her albums fell. Like soul singers Ray Charles and Nina Simone, she performed overseas in places like Paris and London.

Franklin returned to the limelight in 1977 during the nationally broadcast Jimmy Carters Inaugural Gala & # 39; in Washington. In her first performance for a president she sang "God Bless America & # 39;

But it was through the election of President Bill Clinton that the career of Aretha Franklin had a revival. Both Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton told Aretha that they grew up on "Respect" and loved soul. "To have a fellow baby boomer – a bubba and a saxophonist to start – in the White House, well, let's start the party," Franklin said. In a violet-tulle-and-silver evening dress by Bob Mackie, Franklin performed with two initiation balls and with the inaugural broadcast. It was during the Clinton celebration that Franklin said that minds were blowing over an "innocent statement." which she made about an escort from another diva and that the couple singers in a heated argument among "one of the great works of art in one of the historic rooms". from the White House, Franklin wrote.

"While we jumped away from each other, our farewell gesture was the finger," she said.

While Clinton was in the White House, Franklin sang during a visit in the rose garden. by the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

In 1994 Franklin returned to Washington and became the youngest artist to receive Kennedy Center honor. Fellow honorees recorded actor Kirk Douglas and folk singer Pete Seeger. Med diva Patti LaBelle performed in honor of Franklin.

President George W. Bush, a Republican, awarded Franklin the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the highest civilian award.

Four years later, the Queen of Soul was back in Washington and acted for Obama, the first black president of the country. Her gray outfit and supportive gray hat studded with Swarovski crystals, designed by Luke Song, became an internet sensation and an early meme.

Franklin would perform again for the Obamas in 2015 during a Kennedy Center Honors in Washington to honor the songwriter Carole King. King has written the song "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", which was a huge 1967 hit for Franklin. [73] Then 73, and much slower, Franklin, a fur draped, sat at the piano. The Obamas sang along until Franklin rose from the piano midway through her performance, dropping the fur and muscular tones during the height of the song. Honorary George Lucas, Cicely Tyson, Seiji Ozawa and Rita Moreno joined on standing up.

President Obama began to cry.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

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