5 times Aretha Franklin moved people to tears, including President Obama
The world is mourning the loss of a music legend. The renowned Aretha Franklin, the aptly named Queen of Soul, passed away Thursday, August 16th after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Franklin’s publicist confirmed her death to PEOPLE.
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters, and fans all around the world,” Franklin’s family said in a statement, PEOPLE reports. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Franklin leaves behind a lifetime of musical achievement and shattered glass ceilings. From the role she played in the civil rights movement to her status as the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, her legacy is certainly one for the history books.
Let’s revisit some of Aretha Franklin’s most emotional performances—including the time she made former President Barack Obama shed a tear.
1“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.
Franklin tapped into her gospel roots to perform one of Dr. King’s favorite songs at his 1968 funeral. Franklin’s father, Detroit Rev. Clarence LaVaughn, was reportedly a close friend of Dr. King and participated in multiple demonstrations with the iconic civil rights leader, according to Fox.
2“Respect” in Antibes, France
Upon its 1967 release, Franklin’s iconic anthem became a rallying cry for both the civil rights movement and the women’s movement.
"In black neighborhoods and white universities, her hits came like cannon balls, blowing holes in the stylized bouffant and chiffon Motown sound, a strong new voice with a range that hit the heavens and a center of gravity that was very close to earth," wrote Gerri Hirshey, author of "Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music."
3“My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at Obama’s first inauguration
The significance of Aretha Franklin performing at the 2009 inauguration of America’s first black president will never be forgotten.
4“Amazing Grace” at the Festival of Families in Philadelphia
Franklin sang this gospel classic for Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to North America.
5“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors
It was the performance that made the leader of the free world shed a tear. The entire audience was on their feet by the time Franklin finished singing one of her biggest hits at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Carole King.
Rest in peace, Ms. Franklin. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world.