THE DEATH OF ARETHA FRANKLIN

The “Queen of Soul” passed away today – but her music and legacy is alive and well. Join us as we pay tribute to the American legend, and explore the joy she brought to her fans.

Aired on August 16, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> THE QUEEN OF SOUL, ARETHA FRANKLIN DIED EARLIER TODAY AT THE AGE OF 76, OF PANCREATIC CANCER.

THE LEGENDARY SINGER IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MOST TRANSFORMATIVE ARTISTS IN THE 19th CENTURY.

SHE HAD CLASSIC HITS SUCH AS 'RESPECT,' 'CHAIN OF FOOLS,' AND MANY MORE.

FANS AROUND THE WORLD MOURN HER DEATH.

THEY ALSO CELEBRATE THE POWERFUL MUSIC THAT IS HER LEGACY.

JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THAT LEGACY IS MUSIC JOURNALIST, AUTHOR AND SIRIUSXM RADIO HOST.

ALAN, WELCOME.

THANK YOU.

WE ALL KNEW THIS WAS COMING.

BUT IT'S SURPRISINGLY SAD AND SHOCKING.

I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU SAY IT.

IT'S NOT SURPRISING, BUT IT'S SHOCKING.

I MEAN, ALL WEEK WE'VE KNOWN SHE'S BEEN IN HOSPICE CARE.

WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS NEWS.

IT'S NOT UNEXPECTED.

AND YET, IT STILL HITS YOU IN SUCH A POWERFUL WAY WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT A GIANT LIKE THIS REALLY IS GONE.

RIGHT.

BUT TELL US WHY.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, GIANTS HAVE DIED BEFORE.

YEAH.

I THINK THAT WITH THESE KINDS OF MUSICIANS IN PARTICULAR, THESE KINDS OF ICONS, I THINK THAT WE'RE USED TO -- WE KNOW HOW TO PROCESS THE ROCK AND ROLL DEATHS, THE PLANE CRASHES, THE OVERDOSES, THE SORT OF SUDDEN LIGHTNING BOLT OUT OF NOWHERE, WE'VE BEEN THROUGH THAT.

WHAT WE'RE STILL LEARNING IS HOW TO GRIEVE WHEN THESE FIGURES THAT WE'VE GROWN UP WITH, THAT WE'VE LISTENED TO AND LOVED OUR WHOLE LIVES, THEY GET OLDER AND GET SICK AND PASS AWAY, IN A WAY THAT MOST OF US WILL HAPPEN.

WE'RE STILL LEARNING HOW TO DO THAT.

YOU'RE RIGHT.

YOU KNOW, I NEVER HEARD HER PERFORM LIVE.

YOU DID.

IN FACT, YOU DID ONE OF -- RECENTLY YOU DID.

I SAW HER SING AS RECENTLY AS LAST SPRING, I GUESS, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE LAST HALF DOZEN SHOWS OR SO THAT SHE PLAYED.

THE LATER YEARS THE SHOWS COULD BE HIT OR MISS.

SHE WAS -- SHE WAS BATTLING HEALTH ISSUES A LONG TIME.

SHE CANCELLED A LOT OF SHOWS.

SHE DIDN'T SHOW UP FOR A LOT OF SHOWS.

BUT I SAW HER AT A THEATER IN POUGHKIPSIE, A BENEFIT LAST SF SPRING.

SHE WAS MAGNIFICENT.

NOT JUST THE POWER OF HER VOICE, BUT THE FACT SHE WAS STILL ABLE TO DELIVER THIS REALLY NUANCED AND SUBTLE AND PROFOUND INTERPRETATIONS OF THESE SONGS, THE FACT THAT AT 75 YEARS OLD SHE WAS ABLE TO GO AS DEEP INTO THIS MATERIAL WAS JUST SO REMARKABLE TO ME.

I'M SO FORTUNATE THAT I GOT THAT.

YOU'RE LUCKY, YEAH.

HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE HER IN AMERICAN MUSIC?

I THINK SHE REALLY STAKED OUT TERRITORY FOR A BLACK FEMALE ARTIST OF ANY SORT IN THIS COUNTRY THAT REALLY WAS UNPRECEDENTED.

AND THAT SHE REALLY WAS ABLE TO CREATE A SOUND THAT WAS SO GROUND BREAKING IN MAINTAINING THIS CONNECTION TO THE GOSPEL BACKGROUND THAT SHE HAD AND THE CHURCH THAT SHE GREW UP IN AND ABLE TO INVEST THAT UNCOMPROMISING EMOTION, BUT DO THAT IN POP SONGS.

AND DO THAT IN SONGS THAT WERE, YOU KNOW, TOP 40 RADIO HITS.

HOW DID SHE DO THAT?

I MEAN, THAT'S AN ALCHEMY THAT ELUDES MANY ARTISTS.

WE DO A DISSERVICE TO SO MANY GREAT SINGERS, AND WE JUST THINK THEY HAVE THIS SUPER POWER, THEY WERE LUCKY, THEY WERE AND I WASN'T, THAT'S THE WITAY IT GOE.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE BODY OF ARETHA FRANKLIN'S WORK YOU REALIZE THE LEVEL OF MUSICIANSHIP.

SHE WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY -- SHE WAS SIGNED AT 18 YEARS OLD TO COLUMBIA RECORDS AND THEY TRIED TO MAKE HER A JAZZ STANDARDS SINATRA KIND OF SINGER.

SHE MADE SOME BEAUTIFUL RECORDS, BUT NOTHING THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

YOU KNOW, SHE LEFT THERE, SHE WAS SIGNED BY ATLANTIC RECORDS, AND THEY REALIZED GIVE HER HER LANE, LET HER FIND THE SOUND AND WHAT SHE FOUND, WHAT SHE WAS ABLE TO CREATE WITH HER AGENCY YOU KNOW THAT SHE WAS DOING THIS ACTIVELY THAT WAS BRINGING GOSPEL WITH POP CONSTRUCTION, WITH SONGS THAT HAD HOOKS AND THAT PEOPLE COULD KNOW, COULD HUM AND SING.

AND ABLE TO DELIVER SONGS THAT JUST BECAME UNIVERSAL.

SHE CAME TO FAME IN THE '60s, DURING THE UPHEAVAL OF THE SEE 60s, WHAT WAS HER ROLE IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT?

THERE ARE TWO LEVELS TO HER MEANING TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND TO HISTORY.

ON THE ONE HAND, SHE WAS ACTIVE, SHE PLAYED BENEFITS, SHE RAISED MONEY FOR BOND TO FREE PEOPLE WHO WERE PROTESTERS WHO WERE JAILED.

SHE SANG AT DR. KING'S FUNERAL.

SHE WAS VERY HANDS ON INVOLVED IN A LOT OF THINGS ABOUT THE MOVEMENT.

IN A WAY, WAS EVEN BIGGER THAN THAT, IN A WAY THAT THESE SONGS LIKE 'RESPECT' AND 'THINK' WERE, YOU KNOW -- GAVE THE VOICE, GAVE THE MEANING AND THE SORT OF SENSE OF COMMON PURPOSE AND VISION.

THEY REALLY WERE A SOUND TRACK TO THAT MOMENT, NOT JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE POPULAR BUT BECAUSE THEY WERE ARTICULATING AND EXPRESSING THESE IDEAS THAT WERE AT THE FOUNDATION OF WHAT PEOPLE WERE FIGHTING FOR.

LESS THAN 30 SECONDS, WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SONG OF HERS?

A SONG CALLED 'CALL ME,' IT'S ALMOST A WISP THAT WOULD JUST DISAPPEAR IF IT WASN'T SO INVESTED WITH HER INTERPRETATION.

I COULD LISTEN TO THAT SONG EVERY DAY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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