According to The Guardian newspaper, Franklin’s fraught personal life was instinctively understood by the select few she allowed into her circle, particularly the female soul singers with whom she bonded.
”There was always an unspoken understanding between us”, the paper report Etta James to have later confessed, “… we’d be drawn to men, the wrong men, who weren’t in love with us, but we’re in love with who we were”.
To each and everyone of us, are the two components of personalities. Have you found yours? Are you relinquishing one for the other or are you maximizing the power of the two?
Soon, the two or multiple different you, young, adorable, charmingly different you, will both or all grow old, and lose the energy, spark, vitality and vigor of your youth or your yesterday.
As if asking you, now I have handed the baton over, what are you going to do with your life, even if just what remains of it?
Most, if not all of us, carry this multiple personalities, which are not limited to the fully known, partially known and the unknown. Even The Washington Post (TWP) had to put an editor’s note to their write up on Aretha, an update to remove what they called “speculative analysis of Franklin’s life story”. At death, she can’t refute any story. And I wonder why you and I bother spending so much resources refuting our yesterday instead of just writing tomorrrow with an irrefutable golden ink. TWP went on to report that Aretha’s life wasn’t always as victorious as her records sounded. Now, that is the Privatelyme that am talking about. The me and you that is just us and private and classically different from the one that is public.
From an early age, TWP reported that Aretha’s life was marred with difficulties – the sorts of crushing trials and tributions many people never work their way out from under. That the Queen of Soul’s ascent to the throne was not always an easy one. And I thought my way up the little stairway corridor from my current job level to the next was hard enough for me to give up on life. What a weak punch am throwing back at life’s challenges! When Aretha’s home was also reported to be unstable, left by her mum at age 6, lost her mum to the cold hands of death at 10, and she herself giving birth to her first child at 12 years of age, her second by a different father at 15 and a third child, still to a different father at 19 in a tempestuous marriage that lasted just 8 years!
It’s debateable if her turbulent personal life fuel her music and the passion with which she delivered it. But she lived till 76, crowned No 1 in Rolling Stone’s “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time”, sold more than 75 million records, won 18 Grammy Awards out of 44 nominations, performed at the inaugural events of three US presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s.
Her song “Respect” has been part of the soundtracks in 29 films, an unofficial anthem for the civil rights movement and the women’s movement.
Born March 25, 1942 and died August 16, 2018.
Music made Aretha come alive, and what she gave, the world accepted, capturing the essence in Howard Thurman’s word that, we all shouldn’t “… ask what the world needs. (But we should) Ask what makes you (and I) come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”. Eleanor Roosevelt also spoke to Aretha. He told her in this quote, “you gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say, ‘I have lived through this horror, I can take the next thing that comes along’. You must do the thing you think you cannot do”.