Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who brought the intensity of black gospel singing into the pop-music mainstream during the 1950s and 1960s, left a lifetime of legacy that will never be forgotten in Toledo and elsewhere.
The world will miss Ms. Franklin, a person everyone went to when emotions needed to be high and spirits to be lifted, Toledo preacher and celebrated vocalist Rance Allen said.
“Nobody could sing pop the way she did,” Mr. Allen said. “It was like going to see a concert and church at the same time.”
In this June 7, 2015 file photo, Aretha Franklin sings during a memorial service for her father and brother, Rev. C.L. and Rev. Cecil Franklin, at New Bethel Baptist Church where they were ministers, in Detroit, Mich. Franklin died Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 at her home in Detroit. She was 76.
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During the time he knew the gospel singer, he performed with her twice, once at her father’s church in the early 1990s and later, at the White House in front of former President Barack Obama in 2015.
“I went there and gave it all I had,” Mr. Allen said about his first performance with her. “I sang as best as I could. People were standing and applauding.”
Since then, the two formed a close friendship, close enough for Mr. Allen to call her “Aretha.”
She treated him like a fellow artist, Mr. Allen said.
“To have her treat with you that kind of respect was an honor,” he said. “I gave it back to her. I saw her as the queen.”
During the height of her career, Ms. Franklin visited the Glass City performing 14 of her songs at the SeaGate Centre in 1994.
She continued to push boundaries by becoming the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She is renowned as one of the most influential vocalists of her time period.
Ms. Franklin was very supportive of her local church, said the Rev. Cedric Brock of Mount Nebo Baptist Church in Toledo. Before coming to Toledo, Mr. Brock worked with the musician’s pastor in Detroit for a year.
“Nobody was on the same page as her,” he said. “She was a legend, a great influence to [her] community. People in Detroit who knew her, loved her.”
Mr. Allen added that the singer took her church experiences with her and turned arenas into church services. When she walked on stage or came into anyone’s presence, she fought to gain their respect.
He added that she is “the influence on black America.” Her legacy will never die, fade away or be forgotten.
“We want to keep her alive through singing with our soul,” Mr. Brock said. “She was a gospel soul singing Goddess.”
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