Only one singer is known as the queen of soul, and she recently died at the age of seventy-six. Aretha Franklin started her life as a gospel (or church) singer in Detroit, Michigan. Even though her first few songs and albums were not very successful, she went on to produce some of the most popular songs of the century, including Respect and I say a Little Prayer.
She won not one or two, but eighteen Grammy awards and is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, selling more than seventy-five million records! However, Aretha was known for more than singing. She was a fierce civil rights activist and won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Upon the news of her death, praise poured in from around the world. Barack Obama, who invited her to perform at his inauguration ceremony in 2008, said, “ 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.”
Have you ever heard a song by Aretha Franklin? If you have, we would love to know what you found interesting about her voice!
When news broke that six-term Arizona Senator John McCain had passed away after battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, messages of condolences and declarations of Senator McCain’s dedication to his country came pouring in from around the world. Although he didn’t always agree with his fellow politicians, he was well-respected for giving his life to his country. He fought in the Vietnam War and was captured and tortured during his five and half years as a prisoner of war. He served two terms as a US Representative and then six terms as Senator for the state of Arizona. In 2008, he ran for President of the United States but ultimately lost to Barack Obama. In more recent years, he drew both admiration and criticism when he gave a big thumbs-down to President Trump’s and the Republican party’s effort toward a plan for repealing Obamacare—he didn’t earn the nickname of “Maverick” for nothing! He readily admitted that he had made mistakes but that he hoped that his “love for America will be weighed favorably against them.” Whether Republican or Democrat, one thing both sides of the aisle can likely agree on is that Senator McCain gave his all to his country. In his last moments, he left his fellow Americans with some words of hope: “Do not despair of our present difficulties, we believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit, we never surrender, we never hide from history, we make history.” Thank you for your service and for making history, Senator McCain.
The seventh Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, died at the age of eighty in August. A Nobel Prize winner for peace, Kofi Annan played an essential part in shaping the work and direction of the United Nations. He was the first African chosen for the role of Secretary General, and his focus on helping the world fight terrorism, improve human rights, illuminate the epidemic of AIDS, and champion world health was hugely impactful to people in Africa and across the world. When he accepted the Nobel Prize, he said, “Only in a world that is rid of poverty can all men and women make the most of their abilities.”
Interesting fact? Mr. Annan was fluent in English, French, Akan, and many other African languages!