8 Inspiring Quotes From Legendary Singer Aretha Franklin

Honoring the Queen of Soul, who died on Thursday.
8 Inspiring Quotes From Legendary Singer Aretha Franklin
Image credit: Dimitrios Kambouris | Getty Images

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You may not know it, but Aretha Franklin wasn’t the first to record her indelible song “Respect.” Otis Redding, a remarkable talent in his own right, got first crack at it. But when he heard Aretha’s take, he famously said, “I just lost my song.”

Throughout her illustrious career, the Queen of Soul has racked up the music industry’s highest honors, winning 18 Grammy’s as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Legend Awards, and in 1987 was the first woman ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the 1990s she was a Kennedy Center Honoree and received the National Medal of Arts.

In 2005, her home state of Michigan inducted her into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame, 19 years after the Michigan Legislature classified her voice as a “precious natural resource.” That same year she also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Franklin famously sang at former President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. In a quote he gave in a 2016 New Yorker article about the singer, Obama shared why he thought Franklin’s legacy was so enduring.

“Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll -- the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope. American history wells up when Aretha sings,” he said. “[She] captures the fullness of the American experience, the view from the bottom as well as the top, the good and the bad, and the possibility of synthesis, reconciliation, transcendence.”

Read on for eight inspiring quotes from Franklin about work and the power of music.

“I didn’t think my songs would become anthems for women. But I’m delighted. Women probably immediately feel compassion and relate to the lyrics. We can all learn a little something from each other, so whatever people can take and be inspired by where my music is concerned is great.”

"Music changes, and I'm gonna change right along with it."

"Just to know I uplifted another person -- I wouldn't be doing anything else. In terms of helping people understand and know each other a little better, music is universal -- universal and transporting."

“I sing to the realists. People who accept it like it is.”

“I was asked what recording of mine I’d put in a time capsule, and it was 'Respect.' Because people want respect -- even small children, even babies. As people, we deserve respect from one another.”

“Always semi-retire, never retire. Who wants to just sit somewhere? I'm a people person. And I love performing. It's the way it is and the way it's going to be.”

“Every birthday is a gift. Every day is a gift.”

“I will always be singing somewhere.”

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