Singing and commitment of Aretha Franklin stemmed from Baptist Church in Detroit

(Photo taken by Ryan Arrowsmith.)Picture of Aretha Franklin performing at the Nokia Theater in Dallas, Texas, on April 21, 2007.

Aretha Franklin, often referred to as the Queen of Soul, who has died aged 76, started singing in the church environment in which she grew up with her rousing preacher father.

She grew up in Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father, the legendary C.L. Franklin, delivered powerful sermons from the pulpit, The Washington Post reported.

He also worked for black civil rights in Detroit, first fighting for black autoworkers and then for the broader mission of voting rights and non-discrimination in the United States.

Her father was not the only influence in her home: Powerful black women frequently visited the Franklin home and church, including singers Dinah Washington and Mahalia Jackson.

Aretha Franklin's album Amazing Grace was recorded in 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in south-central Los Angeles after riots devastated the area, NPR reported.

Ashon Crawley wrote that, "On gospel recordings such as 1987's One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, Aretha Franklin captured something sacred in the sound of black life."


The surroundings help explain her unapologetic and fierce commitment to the cause of social justice in all its forms, wrote Elwood Watson in the Post.

The singer, whose career has spanned seven decades, died at her home in Detroit, Michigan, on Aug. 16, her publicist said.

A statement from Franklin's family, via the singer's long-time publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, said that she died "surrounded by family and loved ones," The Press Association reported.

The statement continued: "Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

"In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.

"The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."

U.S. gospel artist Jocelyn Brown joined in with tributes being made around the world and told Premier she was hoping that Franklin wouldn't die yet.

Elwood Watson wrote in The Washington Post, "While rarely overtly political, Franklin understood the power of her platform and used her voice for more than just belting out songs and entertaining audiences."

Watson said she was a strong advocate for the black community, and black women in particular.

"She employed her feminist sensibilities in a manner that produced real, concrete results. Unlike some artists of color who try to walk a middle line in an effort to not offend white sensibilities, she comfortably luxuriated in her authentic blackness in both her music and activism."

When Franklin performed "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" in 1967, it became an instant classic.

Her version was not the first of the song.

It was originally recorded by Otis Redding, and "'Respect' laid out a set of demands about how a woman should treat the man in her life in exchange for the resources he provided."

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