The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The singer born in Memphis was one of the greatest voices of gospel music.
Gospel and soul singer Aretha Franklin died in Detroit at the age 76.
Aretha was surrounded by family and friends before passing away Thursday morning. She died from an advanced form of pancreatic cancer.
The singer sold 75 million recordings in more than sixty years of artistic career, and won 18 Grammy Awards.
Born in 1942 (Memphis), Aretha Louise Franklin lost her mother – also a gospel singer - when she was only ten years old. Her father, Clarence C.L. Franklin, was an influential Baptist preacher who had a close friendship with Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists.
Franklin started singing worship songs at church before she was 10 years old, and her first gospel album was released when she was 14.
The album Amazing Grace (1972) - in which songs like “Mary, Don’t Weep”, “Give Yourself to Jesus” and John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” are recorded live - is considered one of the best gospel recordings ever.
In the mainstream market, Aretha Franklin was acclaimed for hits like “Respect”, “I Say A Little Prayer”, “Natural Woman”, and “Chain of Fools”.
The artist frequently credited God for her artistic success. “Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use”. She also said: “My faith always has been and always will be important to me”.
The President of the US, Donald Trump, tweeted: “She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed.” In a statement, former President Bill Clinton and former Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton paid tribute to “one of America's greatest national treasures (...) Aretha’s first music school was the church and her performances were powered by what she learned there”.
Former President Barack Obama also wrote a message about Franklin's legacy:
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) 16 d’agost de 2018
Many Christian leaders in the US and abroad also remembered Aretha Franklin.