Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, passed away on Thursday (August 16) after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Several public figures have paid tribute to Franklin on social media, and now Barack and Michelle Obama are adding their voices to the chorus. If you remember, the trio enjoyed a well-publicized friendship while Obama was still in the White House. It began with Franklin putting on a show-stopping, cry-your-eyes-out performance at his first presidential inauguration.
“American has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring,” the Obamas wrote in a statement obtained by TMZ. “Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel out history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance. Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.”
Obama also released an additional tweet with some of his favorite White House photos of Franklin. “Aretha helped define the American experience,” he added. “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.” Michelle added: “She will forever be our Queen of Soul.”