Weeks ago, in Senegal, I think I wrote about Aretha Franklin. And now I feel like doing it again. My little voice says “Don’t repeat yourself” but it’s being drowned out by the call of the Motown Queen, and someone else. Good. Little voices should be ignored.
My friend Jo and I had lots of conversations in Africa. One was about the magnificence of Aretha. He pulled up a YouTube video that brought tears to both of our eyes. It was 2015 and Carole King was being feted at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. Carole was in the front row of the balcony, sitting beside Michelle and Barack Obama. It seemed to be a surprise for everyone when the MC announced “Aretha Franklin!” and the curtains parted. The lady of the moment moved right over to the piano and started in on You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.
As brilliant as the songstress was, the true joy for me was watching Carole in the balcony. She co-wrote the song. As the first chords came through, Carole’s face exploded in joy. Later she clasped her hands to her head in astonishment. As Aretha hit the wailing high notes, Carole stretched out her hands to her as the Obamas fought back tears.
I watched the video four times today. Carole was so pure in her joy and love, so wide-eyed in embracing this astonishing moment in the world’s musical life. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It is so dearly what the world needs.
I’m so glad I was there … and can go back whenever I want for a renewal of life.