Long Live the Queen

Long Live the Queen

Eli Bernstein, Journalist/Soul Queen

Madonna says she meant no d-i-s-r-e-s-p-e-c-t when she shared a story about her
connection to the late, great Aretha Franklin during the VMA’s last Monday. She says that she
never planned to do a tribute to Franklin, she stated “I shared a part of my journey and thanked
Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her!"
Franklin died two weeks ago after a battle with pancreatic cancer. When Madonna
walked on stage to preset, an image of Franklin appeared above her, which led everyone in the
audience and at home to believe that she was going to a tribute to the legend herself. What
followed left viewers scratching their heads, saying the speech was more about Madonna rather
than the person she was supposed to be honoring.
Madonna opened her statement on stage by saying that Franklin changed the course of
her life, but from there it grew into a story about Madonna’s journey into the music industry. The
singer shared her experience at an audition of where she sang “A Natural Woman” written by
Franklin herself, in a last-minute decision after she had forgotten to prepare prior to this.
Madonna told the crowd she ended up singing the tune acapella, Though, she said, the two men
who she was auditioning for didn't believe "some skinny-ass white girl" was going to "belt out a
song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived."
According to Madonna, she impressed the men, but the gig ended up leading to a dead-
end opportunity. While her big break would come later, she said Franklin "led me to where I am
today." The reaction towards this was… not positive to say the least, people claiming she was
more focused on her own legacy rather than the Queen of Soul’s.

Others blamed MTV for the poor tribute stating they should have found a singer of color
to represent Aretha and the rest of the black community. However poor Madonna’s “tribute”
was, we must remember the Queen of Soul as she was: one of the most amazing and talented
singers of all time. She impacted the entirety of music as we know it, inspiring young singers,
bringing people together. We truly grew in the “Age of Aretha”.