Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Of Thee I Sing

Marion Anderson
Speaking of Black history Month, when Luther Vandross died a bunch of us at work looked at the pictures of all those who attended the funeral or memorial service.

Of course all the usual suspects were there, the ones with names that you never forget: Quincy, Michael, Diana et al, at least I guess they were there because in actuality I did forget who did show up except for one big and fat woman who seemed stressed in all the wrong places with strange clothing that no one could recognize. Arnessia, a co-worker asked me who I thought it was. I said, “Next” as in the most obvious person next to die. It was about 5 minutes later when someone said that the unknown lady was Aretha.

Looking back I think I might have been a little callous in my assessments.

Aretha Franklin, who knew then that she would be invited to the Inauguration of the 1st black President of the United States or there would even be a 1st black President of the United States. Who knew then that more people would talk about her hat rather than the historical significance of her singing, “My country tis of thee,” on the steps of the Capitol. The same song that Martin Luther King had quoted from over 40 years earlier further down the Mall on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial, “Sweet land of liberty.” The same song that Marion Anderson had sung, but without the Anderson changes, at the Lincoln Memorial 70 years before after being invited by Mrs. Roosevelt to sing there when she had been refused permission to sing at Constitution Hall because of her race, “of thee I sing.” Who knew that she would become part of a historic moment that had come full circle?

As almost everyone knows, Aretha has been ill recently but I saw a tribute to her a few weekends ago on the Grammy Awards ceremony and I thought she looked good. Although getting sick is one hell of a way to lose weight. How many of those Grammys does she have anyway? I guess when you are recognized as the Queen of Soul all the facts and the figures, which one can find elsewhere, don’t really matter as long as she can express our sadnesses and still bring joy and peace and redemption to her listeners.

I hope things turn out well for her and us. I really do.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin Tribute (Live at Grammy Awards 2011)
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  1. The night of the Grammys you could tell that Aretha is battling something...hope she pulls through!

  2. TGK - You could tell she was battling something because they and she told you.

  3. I was a little taken aback when she appeared. She has lost huge amounts of weight in the past (well, in the 70s) & it was very becoming. Somehow now she just looked deflated. My prayers are with her & I along with millions hope for her full recovery.

    Having sang at Dr. Kings's funeral & years later at Obama's Inauguration, she truly IS a walking peace of R&B/Gospel music & Black History!


  4. Ree Ree as she is known to many of us Old Heads, Aretha is amazing she has been through so much and has survived thus far, I'm certain she will make it through this battle with Cancer, I agree with you "losing weight due to illness is not a good thing, and losing weight that swiftly most certainly has done damage to her heart and body.

    To think that Aretha and Marion Anderson both sang for Presidents, nice bit of history.

  5. Moanerplicity - Deflated is good word for the way Aretha looks. I hadn't known that she had sand for Dr. King's funeral although I guess that makes sense. Hopefully she'll be around to sing at my funeral and then we'll all know that I made it too.

    Chet - I had forgotten that Aretha had also been called Ree Ree by some.

    And yes I didn't realize it at the time but Aretha not only honored the President by singing for him, but honored all those who came and went before to help him and her to gain the respect and access to be able to get to that point.

  6. Wow, that's a picture of Aretha I have never seen before - she was a hottie!

  7. RunningMom - Yes, that was a picture from one of her album covers.

  8. I had no idea she was ill! This sort of news doesn't filter over to the UK until it's well and truly over (I think you know what I mean by that). Here's hoping she pulls through.


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