Heeeeey! What you want,
—"Respect", opening lines.
Aretha Louise Franklin, The Queen of Soul (1942-2018)
She started her career in the early-1960s. Her breakout hit was "Respect" (1965), a song originally written and recorded by Otis Redding. This song helped define her persona: since it was originally written for a guy, its narrator is naturally more assertive than most female singers were before.
Her other hits include "Think" (erroneously known as "Freedom"), "Chain of Fools", and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Some of her many achievements include singing at Martin Luther King's funeral, becoming the first woman inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, standing in for Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammys with an improvised but showstopping operatic number, and singing at Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony in a hat that took on a life of its own and is now kept at the Smithsonian. She has placed at #1 on both VH-1's Top 100 Women of Rock n Roll and Rolling Stone's Top 100 Singers of All Time.
Her appearance in The Blues Brothers and its sequel as the wife of Matt "Guitar" Murphy revamped her career in the 1980s. She never entirely went away, still put out hits, and drew crowds until she retired for health reasons in 2017. She passed away in August 2018 - there was just enough advance news about her condition that Beyoncé was able to give Aretha a tribute before she died.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Hell yeah!
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: "Respect." It would be "Changes the Gender" if the song had any gendered words in it. As it is, the sentiments of "Respect" do sound different from a woman than they would from a man, and sounded even more different when the song came out.
- Fan Nickname
- Long Runner: from the early 1960s to 2017.
- Nice Hat: The hat she wore at Barack Obama's inauguration.
- Refrain From Assuming: "Think"
- Sassy Black Woman: If her appearance in The Blues Brothers proves nothing else, do not mess with her, or she will deliver a showstopping musical number to show you what's what.
- Spelling Song: R-E-S-P-E-C-T