Aretha Franklin: Her Most Amazing Live Performances

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With the passing of Aretha Franklin, we look back on some of the performances that earned her the title Queen of Soul.

This week, the world lost one of its most powerful voices with the passing of Aretha Franklin. Her amazing and ground-breaking career spans over 50 years. As music continually changed with every new generation, Franklin remained always relevant thanks to her one-of-a-kind voice and unforgettable live performance. In honour, let’s take a look back on some of the greatest live performances from the Queen of Soul.

Carole King Kennedy Center Honors tribute (2015)

Before Carol King had her own outstanding career as a singer, she was one of the most prolific songwriters. Along with Gerry Goffin, she wrote one of Franklin’s biggest hits, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. As a ‘thank you’, Franklin helped honour King at this prestigious event. Her stunning performance left King amazed and brought President Barack Obama to tears.

40th annual Grammy Awards (1998)

Few artists could get away with singing opera at music’s biggest night, but Aretha Franklin is not just any musician. She brought the house down just by coming out on stage but the audience didn’t know what they were in for when she began “Nessun Dorma”. True to her fashion, she glides through the song with that soulful voice leading up to the show-stopping ending. It brought a room full of music’s most accomplished stars to their feet and has gone down as perhaps the best performance in Grammy’s history.

This Is Tom Jones (1970)

Franklin had an unique ability to take just about any song from any artist and perform it to its full potential. “I Say a Little Prayer” was released and made popular a year earlier by Dionne Warwick. On this variety show however, Franklin infused the tune with her signature power and turned it into something totally different and, in the opinion of many, the superior version.

Barack Obama’s Inauguration (2009)

President Obama’s first inauguration was one most historic events in American history and a date of immense important for, not only many Americans, but people all over the world. So it was only fitting that the Queen of Soul would play a prominent role in the proceedings, knocking out a beautiful and heartfelt rendition of “America” like only she could. A performance that helps to further elevate this powerful moment in history.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Funeral (1968)

Franklin helped to bring gospel music into the mainstream because she transcended religion. It wasn’t about what she was singing, but how she sang it that people responded to. She used that extraordinary ability to help a country grieve the death of Civil Right’s leader Martin Luther King Jr. Like her performance at the Obama inauguration, Franklin put, not only her voice but also her image as an icon in important moments in American history. Her performance of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” was a respectful and beautiful tribute.

Which of Aretha Franklin’s performances do you consider the best?

 

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