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“There will never be another queen.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. laments the passing of Aretha Franklin

8/16/2018, 1:14 p.m. | Updated on 8/16/2018, 1:14 p.m.
There will never be another queen. “Jesus, Be a Fence Around Me” My heart is heavy and in so much ...
The late great Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) and Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

“There will never be another queen.” Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. laments the passing of Aretha Franklin

My heart is heavy and in so much pain. A lot of music left earth today. The Heavens rejoice. Aretha, my sister beloved and friend with the 4 octave range and inimitable sound, has gone even higher. She had been battling a debilitating illness over the last few years. She fought as gallantly as she sang, with faith, power and dignity.

Young, Gifted and Black”

I have known Aretha since I was a young civil rights worker and she was a young singer, already well on her way to becoming the Queen of Soul. On stage, she had full command of her voice, her divine instrument. Aretha could do it all, sacred and secular, from soul stirring gospel to foot stomping R & B, pop, jazz, and classical. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and was listed by Rolling Stone as number one as the greatest singer of all time.

“Respect”

Off stage, Aretha was a courageous crusader for civil rights, justice and R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha came by her commitment to justice and civil rights naturally. Her father was the great minister, civil rights champion and gospel legend, Rev. C.L. Franklin, one of the most imitated soul preachers in history. Her mother Barbara was a talented gospel singer as well.

In the 1960’s, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was being hounded by the FBI, attacked by the press and abandoned by former allies, Aretha risked her career to stand tall and proud by his side. Aretha and Harry Belafonte went on an 11-city tour, for free, to raise money for the movement. She stayed with Dr. King until the end. She sang Dr. King’s favorite gospel song, “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” at his funeral.

“I Say a Little Prayer”

Over the years, I often visited Aretha and her father in their home in Detroit. I was honored to be asked by Aretha and her family to deliver the eulogy at her father’s funeral in 1984.

“Think”

I play her music constantly, – as I travel, as I think, as I write, as I dream. Aretha sang our triumphs, our testimonies, our grief, our struggles. I know I’m not alone in that. She sold more than 75 million records and won 18 Grammys. Whatever mood you found yourself in Aretha has soothed it through song and unwavering direction.

“One Lord. One Faith. One Baptism”

Aretha sang for presidents and popes. She performed at the inaugurations of three presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A few years ago, Aretha and I met Pope Francis at an event in Philadelphia. The Pope sat forward in his chair, with a smile of contentment and joy, as she sang “Amazing Grace.”

Someone once said, “You can try to take away all of the flowers, but Spring still comes.”

“A Rose is still A Rose… On the Freeway of Love.” We shall never, ever forget her crowning glory.

She was a world transformer.

She did not own sickness. She owned health. She owned joy, power, love, music.

Aretha sang so well and served so many as a Franklin, yet she belongs to all of us.

Forever ours, Aretha.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.