Young, Gifted and Black is the eighteenth studio album by Aretha Franklin, released on January 24, 1972 by Atlantic Records. It takes its title from the Nina Simone song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black“, which was originally recorded and released by Simone in 1969.
What a complete delight and pleasure it has been to spend time listening to the undisputed Queen of Soul. Her perfect voice, immaculate diction and sheer emotional depth and authenticity have helped me in the past couple of weeks to find some inspiration and joy.
There is a plethora of writing about Aretha Franklin and every plaudit she has is richly deserved. I am not going to add anything other than my respect and admiration for her.
I am particularly moved to learn that she held women’s rights and civil rights as central to her life and values. Not only this but she quietly and privately supported the struggle for the rights of indigenous Americans. She refused to perform at Trump’s inauguration as an act of protest from artists and musicians. She led a principled life and is a powerful role model for women everywhere, not just in music. She spoke up for Angela Davis when she was arrested and jailed in 1970 telling Jet magazine :
“Angela Davis must go free … Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people.”
I was spoilt for choice over what link to share, so here’s a couple. Treat your ears:
Aretha Franklin, I salute you.