Just one word will always be associated with Aretha Franklin: respect. Or rather, R - E – S – P – E – C – T, as she spelt it out so powerfully.
Aretha was respected primarily for her amazingly soulful voice – but she also used that voice to demand respect for women and for African-Americans.
Unlike Madonna, whose 60th birthday is being trumpeted everywhere, she had little time for projecting images of herself or for selling sexuality. Her stock in trade was raw talent and the ability to send those old-fashioned shivers down the spine.
As well as being an inspiration to women and to black people, she also made it plain that you didn’t have to have an hourglass figure and conform to conventional patterns of beauty to be accepted as a great singer.
For all those reasons, she will be sorely missed in this age of manufactured ‘stars’.