Road users can now take the Aretha Franklin Way, and no, it is not some kind of metaphor. On June 8, the legendary singer has had a Detroit street named after her. Known as the Aretha Franklin Way, it is located in a section of Madison, between Brush and Witherell.
“I knew I would get weepy when I got down here,” the 75-year-old diva said tearfully as she thanked the Detroit City Council for the honor.
“Every time I come down here, I want to see it. I’m gonna dance down it. Thank you.”
Detroit council President Brenda Jones detailed the relationship between Franklin and the intersection of Madison and Brush, which is the site of the Music Hall. Aretha has performed several times in the said venue during her career. According to The Detroit News, it has also hosted Easter Sunday services whenever her father’s church was over capacity.
“Detroit has been with me ever since,” Franklin said.
“They were with me when no one else knew who I was and I’ve been with them every step of the way.”
Aretha took a few minutes to admire her street sign as a crowd of onlookers gathered to snap photos of the legendary singer. She thanked the city for “this resplendent honor.”
The Detroit News caught up with 67-year-old Wendy Wiegand of Southfield, an Aretha Franklin avid fan who said that it was important for her to attend the event.
“Naming a street after her, the tribute will last for years and years,” Wiegand said. “She’s such a wonderful person.”
Aretha, a world-renowned gospel and soul artist, has 18 Grammy awards, 20 No. 1 R&B hits, and a slew of hits beloved by fans spanning generations. City Council President Brenda Jones said that while the Spirit of Detroit statue stands as a symbol of the city’s greatness, Aretha Franklin was the “true spirit of Detroit.”
“She is a personal hero of mine and for all women all over the world,” Jones said as she presented Franklin with a plaque of the city’s proclamation.
“Ms. Franklin has become one of the most charted female artists in Billboard history. She is known for her powerful distinctive vocals and have influenced countless singers. Yet she still reigns as the queen of soul, a title she has proudly worn for decades.”
According to MLive, the naming of the street wasn’t the only plans the city has in paying tribute to Aretha Franklin as a premier Detroit export. A free show at 6 p.m. on Saturday would also be featured at the Music Hall will also be happening where Aretha might be performing her last before officially retiring.
“Aretha started her career in the city of Detroit,” Jones said.
“So this means a lot, and the weekend means a lot for us and those who knows what Aretha stands for. It shows to the generations who came behind her that you too could have a sign in the city of Detroit if you become famous or become a hero like Aretha Franklin.”
Meanwhile, Detroit singers paid tribute to the Queen of Soul on Friday at the Music Hall. A lineup of 15 singers participated in a tribute show as part of the inaugural Detroit Music Weekend festival.
Unfortunately, Franklin wasn’t in attendance despite an announcement made last week that she would the night’s closing performer. According to Detroit Free Press, following the hectic street-naming event in downtown Detroit on Thursday, the soul diva opted to rest for her own Saturday headlining performance.
Despite Franklin’s absence, Friday night’s singers were happy to carry the load. The show was backed by a Detroit house band led by bassist Kern Brantley, best known for his work as Lady Gaga’s musical director. He was joined by his brother, pianist Valdez Brantley, drummer Ron Otis, saxophonist Dave McMurray, and guitarist Andre Frappier.
[Featured Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]