In an era of backing tracks and studio wizardry, only the true talents rise up to the top. Aretha Franklin never needed Auto-Tune or any assistance when it came to her voice, and throughout six decades, she proved time and time again why she was “The Queen of Soul.”
With the passing of Franklin, one of music’s most gifted voices goes silent, but the breadth of awe-inspiring performances she leaves us is truly breathtaking. Here are just seven notable performances from her astounding career.
“Won’t Be Long” – The Steve Allen Show (1964)
A 22-year-old Franklin delivers a show-stopping performance and makes it look effortless.
“Chain of Fools” (with Annie Lennox) – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concerts (2010)
Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock Hall in 1987, so when it was time to celebrate the institution’s 25th anniversary, she naturally stepped forward and was joined by Annie Lennox.
“My Country Tis of Thee” – Inauguration of President Barack Obama (2009)
With the world watching and in below freezing temperatures, Franklin delivered a moving rendition of “My Country Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration.
“Nussun Dorma” – 40th Annual Grammy Awards (1998)
Filling in last-minute for Luciano Pavarotti, Franklin performed the tenor aria “Nussun Dorma” from the Giacomo Puccini opera Turandot, and at its stirring conclusion, there wasn’t a single soul sitting in their seat.
“Ooo Baby Baby” (with Smokey Robinson) – Soul Train (1979)
Franklin and Robinson seemingly spontaneous performance of the Miracles’ classic “Ooo Baby Baby” is nothing short of chill-inducing.
“Take My Hand, Precious Lord” – Dr. Martin Luther King’s Memorial Service (1968)
Dr. King was a family friend, and when the civil rights icon was assassinated, Franklin sang the gospel standard, which was also his favorite song, at his memorial service.
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” – Kennedy Center Honors (2015)
Songwriter Carole King received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 and was honored with a surprise performance from Franklin of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Anyone else lose it with Aretha threw off that fur coat? Just unreal!
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.