Henry Beecher Hicks III, president of the National Museum of African American Music states:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of iconic soul singer Aretha Franklin this morning.
“The Queen of Soul” was born in Memphis, steeped in the gospel tradition of her father’s church, and made an indelible impression on American popular music with songs like “Respect” and “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.” Her powerful voice and skillful songwriting made Aretha Franklin one of the top-selling artists of all time and earned her 18 Grammy awards, along with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, several honorary degrees, an array of lifetime achievement awards and a place in the hearts of all Americans.
Franklin’s influence on subsequent generations of musicians is too pervasive to sum up in a few words; but perhaps President Barack Obama described it best when he said that her music “captures the fullness of the American experience, the bottom as well as the top, the good and the bad, and the possibility of synthesis, reconciliation, transcendence.”
Aretha Franklin was a true genius of American music. We hope that her journey is a peaceful one. While we look forward to celebrating her at the National Museum of African American Music, she will be sorely missed.