Warning: This is a lengthy post.
When legendary singer and ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin passed on August 16th, there was and continues to be an outpouring of mourning and tributes. It’s no secret that she touched a lot of lives and impacted lots of communities, especially the African American community. One of my favorite songs by her is her rendition of Young, Gifted and Black, a song originally penned by Nina Simone and used to empower the Black youth when there was insurmountable racism, prejudice and discrimination in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
As with any celebrity that passes, their personal life is often dug up and discussed again. Aretha is no different. Aretha herself has admitted that her childhood wasn’t “typical” and most African Americans know what she means by that. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a minister who made big money through his sermons, but he was also a sex fiend who held orgies at his church. Her mother Barbara, who disagreed with his lifestyle, died at the age of 34 of a heart attack.
C.L. Franklin became even more famous when he impregnated a 12 year old member at his church. That makes him a pedophile and a child rapist in my book. Aretha herself also became pregnant at the age of 12 and its been speculated for years that her father fathered her son Clarence. Aretha however has stated that her father was not the father of her child, but a boy who went to the same school as her.
There has been much talk (lately) about her insatiable sexual appetite and her love of food, something Aretha had already addressed in some of the autobiographies that have been written about her. Aretha admitted that she became sexually active at an early age (which I believe had something to do with her father’s church orgies) during her youth / younger days and how one man couldn’t satisfy her. She had to be with more than one man because she had to have sex multiple times a day. Not to be crude, but one man can’t keep up with that pace for too long. Just being honest.
Second to her love of sex was her love of food, particularly fried foods. Over the years, Aretha would eat large amounts of fried foods to cope with the disappointments in her marriage, her life and even her music career. When her father was shot and spent five years in a coma before dying, her appetite for sex and food sky rocketed to dangerous levels. She even became an alcoholic to cope with the loss of her father and some of her failed marriages.
Those closest to her worried that she would become her own worst enemy and destroy her music career. It’s a good thing Aretha got herself together before that could happen because as we can see, she never hit rock bottom in her music career. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes.
Despite Aretha’s unusual childhood and rocky troubled past, Aretha still and will remain one of the world’s most legendary and respected singers. Her voice will live on for years to come and that I tell you is a gift.