Aretha Franklin has been singing since she was old enough to stand up in her father's church on Sundays. She's been recording since at least 1962, about when this photograph was made. I have loved her and her music all through the years. It's not enough to call her the "Queen of Soul," though she certainly is that. She is also the voice of gospel and often the most credible blues singer since Billie Holliday. She's even pinch hit for Placido Domingo, singing in his key, not her own.
She is the voice who sang Barack Obama into office, richly gathering the hopes of millions of people that cold morning through the song she sang. She was the youngest ever recipient of a Kennedy Center Honors award in 1994. She is the first woman ever elected into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And she will forever be the waitress from "The Blues Brothers," asking for respect.
I should explain that I try to post videos of her work at least a couple times a week on Facebook. We don't know how much longer she will be with us, or whether we will ever hear that entirely recognizable voice again. She has pancreatic cancer.
In case, you're not on Facebook, here's a link to Aretha singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the Obama inauguration two years ago.