Aretha Franklin passed away yesterday at the age of 76 from complications in advanced pancreatic cancer.
The Queen of Soul is dead.
And with a six decade career, Ms. Franklin definitely earned that title. Forty-four Grammy nominations, eighteen wins. Sold over seventy-five million records worldwide. 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart's history. First woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Kennedy Center Honor recipient. National Medal of the Arts and Presidential Medal Freedom recipient. Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee.
And boy was she.
She took every song and made it transcendent. Far beyond pop and R&B, she was up to whatever challenge presented itself. No other act demonstrated this more than her performance of Nessun Dorma at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Luciano Pavarotti's signature aria from Turnadot, he was slated to perform at the Grammys but became too ill to perform. Pavarotti's cancellation left a big hole in the show and producer's scrambled to find a replacement. The producer of the telecast Ken Ehrlich had remembered Franklin performing the aria previously and knew that she was slated to perform in another portion of the Grammy ceremony already. As the ceremony crept closer, Ehrlich ran to her dressing room to ask a huge favor. Armed with a boombox and cassette tape so Ms. Franklin could here the dress rehearsal. She gave it a listen, reportedly said "I can do that."
And the rest is history.
I like to imagine she is now singing gospel more richly than anyone could understand here on earth and I look forward to being able to hear that.