African-American Music Appreciation Month is a celebration for African American Music every year in the month of June in the United States. It was originally started as Black Music Month by President Jimmy Carter, who on June 7, 1979, decreed that June would be the month of black music. Since then, presidents have announced to Americans to celebrate Black Music Month. For each year of his term, President Barack Obama has announced the observance under a new title, African-American Music Appreciation Month.
Aretha Franklin, a household name the world over, has racked up more awards and accolades than virtually any woman in music history—from the much-coveted Presidential Medal of Freedom to being named one of Time magazine’s most important people of the 20th century.
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Aretha Franklin in the history of American popular music. The definitive soul singer of the 1960s, Franklin stands beside Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra as one of the few perfect pop voices this country has ever produced. Franklin has often been described as the greatest singer and musician due to her "vocal flexibility, interpretive intelligence, skillful piano-playing, her ear, her experience." Franklin’s instantly recognizable artistic signature—a flawless mezzo-soprano dynamo of blues phrasing, gospel melisma, and pop precision, punctuated by unpredictable two-octave leaps and a deeply sensual, earthy growl—shines like a supernova in a galaxy of mere stars.
Her hit records–'Respect,' 'Think,' 'Chain Of Fools,' 'Daydreaming,' 'A Natural Woman'–– are timeless classics; her 18 GRAMMY Awards, Awards and is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide with a multitude of gold and platinum albums and singles, and her induction as the first female artist into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
As a teenager, Franklin toured the gospel circuit with her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin (a nationally known gospel star and pastor of Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church), earning the admiration of gospel legends Mahalia Jackson, the Reverend James Cleveland, and Sam Cooke. In 1960, Aretha graduated to New York City, where she was signed to Columbia Records
In 1966, the triumvirate of Atlantic Records vice president/producer Jerry Wexler presented the world with Aretha Franklin’s virtual blueprints of soul music. By 1968, she was being hailed as “The Queen of Soul” and the personification of the nation’s newfound black pride movement. Martin Luther King presented an award to her, and she graced the cover of Time magazine. By the time the ’60s came to an end, Franklin was a living legend.
By the ’70s, Franklin’s music grew and she managed 10 more #1 R&B hits, including “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Day Dreaming,” and “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do).” The albums Young, Gifted And Black and the gospel extravaganza Amazing Grace (recorded live with her father and the Reverend James Cleveland) found Franklin coming to terms with her own legacy and discovering a fresh direction.
In the ’80s, she was unexpectedly embraced by a new generation through her featured role in The Blues Brothers movie, and on the R&B charts with three more #1s: “Jump To It,” “Get It Right,” and “Freeway Of Love.” She even scored her second Pop #1 with “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet with George Michael.
Honored as the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, Franklin continues to record gospel, soul, and classical music today.
In a recent interview The Queen of Soul stated concerning her career and Presidential Medal of Freedom. “It is ever fabulous. I mean, fabulous. I’ve been so blessed. I’m most thankful for how good God has been to me. When you receive something like the Presidential Medal of Freedom, wow. After God’s grace, I’m so grateful for good friends, loyal fans and the love of the music. I treasure real people and I know the ones who have hung in there with me and I am truly thankful stated Franklin.
During African American Music Month let’s salute The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and her legendary voice that has been declared one of Americas National Treasures.
Maurice Lynch - Producer & Director -NYC