Shortly after it was announced that the “Queen of Soul,” singer Aretha Franklin, had entered hospice, word followed that the powerhouse performer had passed away. Many public figures paid tribute, but the Rev. Al Sharpton just ended up embarrassing himself with one of his.
Franklin’s official website noted that not only was she often known just by her first name, but that she was “both a 20th and 21st century musical and cultural icon.” For at least six decades she entertained the world with such iconic songs as “Think” and “Natural Woman.”
Her astonishing career earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from then-President George W. Bush, and a whopping 18 Grammy awards. She is also credited with “saving” the 1998 Grammy Awards, as the New York Post recounted.
One of her most famous tunes is “Respect,” in which she spells out the word, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” twice. That particular part of the song has been widely used across pop culture, including in movies and television commercials.
The star-studded deluge of tributes to her often referenced her amazing career and many famous songs. A few, shared here, illustrate the deep respect so many had for Franklin and her contributions to the music world.
Singer Janet Jackson sent out a tweet with a video clip talking about how she grew up with Franklin as a neighbor, playing with her kids. She honored the legacy Franklin created:
Following this whirlwind of a week I wanted to take a moment to remember Aretha & the memories of her that I will cherish forever. She's gone from this earth but her music will live on forever, inspiring generations to come. Aretha, I miss you. #ArethaFranklin #ArethaQueenForever pic.twitter.com/QOws6U0cRV
— Janet Jackson (@JanetJackson) August 19, 2018
Actress and businesswoman Priscilla Presley paid tribute with a simple RIP message. She made no mention of whether she’d ever met the singer, via her late ex-husband, Elvis.
TMZ and others reported that both Elvis and Franklin died on the same day, Aug. 16. Elvis passed away 41 years before Franklin.
Still grieving on the loss of one of our greatest gospel singers of all time. RIP Aretha. You will be deeply missed. pic.twitter.com/fRb3BjQvIi
— Priscilla Presley (@Cilla_Presley) August 19, 2018
Freelance journalist Yashar Ali shared a star-studded story about Franklin. Apparently, legendary singers Etta James and Sarah Vaughn discussed the rising star’s vocal talent.
According to the story, reportedly told by James, both were impressed, and at least one, perhaps a little intimidated. The charming story added to the lovely way in which so many opted to honor Franklin.
"I remember running into Sarah Vaughan, who always intimidated me. Sarah said, ‘Have you heard of this Aretha Franklin girl?’ I said, ‘You heard her do ‘Skylark,’ didn’t you?’ Sarah said, ‘Yes, I did, and I’m never singing that song again.’”
— Etta James pic.twitter.com/J3MCPdzPNr
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) August 19, 2018
Then we come to Sharpton, who interviewed Franklin in 2014, and featured at least part of that during a tribute segment in his “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton” show on MSNBC. However, in relation to a segment with fired White House staffer Omarosa Maniqault Newman, he attempted to reference his “late friend Aretha Franklin” and honor her while also slapping down President Trump.
It didn’t go well, at all:
???R E M I X???
— matt (@MattsIdeaShop) August 19, 2018
Twitter user “Matt’s Idea Shop” created a tweet featuring the train wreck.
Some might say that a number of the comments attached to his tweet were just as entertaining.
Many were dumbfounded that such an iconic part of the song, in which the word is clearly spelled out, somehow eluded the show host. He misspelled “respect” as “R-E-S-P-I-C-T.” And didn’t catch his error.
Later, in celebrating Harlem Week’s Harlem Day, Sharpton tried to get the rain-soaked crowd to chant Franklin’s name. Fortunately, he didn’t try to spell it:
Paying tribute to Aretha at Harlem Week’s Harlem Day! Through the rain, we showed up as Aretha would have and had done many times for US! ??❤️ pic.twitter.com/tu446GgC0U
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 19, 2018
Since Sharpton is so often, correctly, “race-baiter” or a political con man, it may be difficult to say which was more disappointing. Was it that he misspelled a word that is so clearly spelled out in Franklin’s song, or that he seemingly kept trying to use tributes to her in order to gain political points for himself and his own agenda?
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