The Queen of Soul died on the same date that the King of Rock and Roll died, 41 years later. The respectful remembrances by family and friends, along with other artists, came from around the world to honor Aretha Franklin. Then, since this is 2018, The Daily Beast rushed to print that Aretha ‘despised’ President Trump’s rise on the political scene and supported Hillary Clinton for president. This is not surprising, of course, but it only took a matter of hours for the anti- Trump brigade to politicize a legend’s death.
Though she largely refrained from publicly criticizing Trump during or after the 2016 campaign, two individuals with direct knowledge of her political opinions said she was repelled by the Republican standard-bearer, his policy prescriptions, and his rhetoric. One source close to Franklin told The Daily Beast that after the election, she confided to associates that “no amount of money” could convince her to perform at the inauguration. Another knowledgeable source described her as “despising” everything he stood for, and as an avowed Hillary Clinton supporter.
Aretha Franklin’s music is a part of my life’s soundtrack. That’s true for any Baby Boomer alive and the generations that followed. Trust me, when I first heard Aretha sing, it wasn’t her political philosophy that made me a fan for life. Does an article devoted to petty politics make me think less of her? No, of course not. It makes the authors of the article look small and shallow. You’ll also note it is just more Trump bashing courtesy of unnamed sources.
I don’t care that Aretha didn’t want to sing at Trump’s inauguration. I’d be surprised if a big name artist agreed to sing at any Republican president’s inauguration, especially in today’s divided country. To the reporting that Aretha was a big Hillary supporter, all I have to say is, “Duh!”.
It wasn’t always so between Aretha and Trump, though. She, like the rest of the entertainment world, accepted him in the industry as much as any other self-obsessed personality. She was happy to perform at his casinos in New Jersey at the time, for example. It was only after he decided to run for president that he was banished from the showbiz crowd.
The entertainment left and their cohorts in cable news were in a tizzy over the statement Trump issued to the White House press corps at the beginning of a cabinet meeting Thursday.
“I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well,” he began. So far so good, right? Well, things took a turn for the Trumpian with his next sentence: “She worked for me on numerous occasions.”
How dare he mention that she worked for him in the past? (sarcasm is mine) She even sang at the opening of Trump Towers in New York. I’m sure she didn’t do it for free. Being paid to perform a service – in her case, entertaining people – is called working for someone. Good Lord. Trump Derangement Syndrome is intense and debilitating. The fainting couch business must be booming.
If politics has to come into play, the Twitterverse was filled with folks from all political walks of life weighed in with words of grief. From the President of The Heritage Foundation and former President Barack Obama:
The Queen of Soul now rests in the arms of her Precious Lord. Her music broke through all color barriers, moved an entire generation, and will last forever. Nothing but love, gratitude and RESPECT for you, Aretha.
— Kay Coles James (@KayColesJames) August 16, 2018
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
The hat Aretha wore to sing during Obama’s inauguration was the big fashion story that day. It was impressive. Franklin also sang at both of Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremonies. She sang for former President Jimmy Carter, as well as at the funeral of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was not a stranger to the powerful but she remained approachable to everyday fans, too. She was proud to be a ‘preacher’s kid’ and her career spanned six decades, first as a young gospel singer, then soul and rhythm and blues. Former President George W. Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Franklin was a civil rights activist but didn’t have the reputation of a going out of her way to criticize others. She was a Democrat but even during Trump’s initial entry into politics, she wasn’t publicly critical of him. She told those close to her, if the unnamed sources are to be believed, that she despised his policies and rhetoric. That’s to be expected – Democrats don’t like conservative governance.
Aretha’s funeral will span four days in Detroit. She will be buried next to her father, two sisters, a brother, and a nephew.
A public viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which Franklin frequently visited, according to the Detroit News.
The service, which will only be open to family and friends, will be on Aug. 31 at the Greater Grace Temple, where Rosa Parks’ funeral was also held.
Franklin will then be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery, alongside her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, brother Cecil Franklin, sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin, and nephew Thomas Garrett, the outlet reports.
From motherhood at age 12 to her death at 76, her life was the American Dream.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018