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Saratoga, SPAC Remembers Aretha Franklin

The 'Queen of Soul' performed at the Saratoga venue on three separate occasions.

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin, performing at SPAC in 1998. (Ed Burke)

On Thursday, August 16, legendary vocalist and songwriter Aretha Franklin passed away at the age of 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer, according to a family statement released this morning. In recent days, it had been reported that the Queen of Soul was gravely ill.

Franklin’s family’s statement reads: “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. We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

The first woman enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin first began singing hymns in her father’s Detroit church and was later signed by Columbia Records at just the age of 18. She did not rise to fame, however, until her 1967 masterpiece, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (which featured her timeless cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect”). It was Franklin’s 11th studio album and her first big smash hit. She was only 24 when the album was released. From there, Franklin went on to become one of the most successful musical acts of all time, selling more than 75 million records worldwide and garnering an astounding 18 Grammy Awards, including a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance golden gramophone a staggering eight years in a row.

Franklin’s more than half a century in the music industry and on the road included several stops here in Saratoga, including three performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). “Our audiences were fortunate to have experienced the Queen of Soul at SPAC for shows in 1982 and 1998, and as the headliner of our Jazz Festival in 1993,” says Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of SPAC. “While I wasn’t in Saratoga to experience those particular performances, the power and humanity of Aretha Franklin’s music-making has had an indelible effect on me and on countless musicians and music-lovers.  Her loss is a loss to humankind.”

There has been a similar outpouring of tributes for the late Franklin on Twitter. Below, take a look at some of them:

Paul McCartney:

Michelle And Barack Obama:

Mariah Carey:

Jeff Dingler
Jeff Dingler

Jeff Dingler is saratoga living's Senior Writer. He's a graduate of Skidmore College and a professional musician.

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