Janelle Monae On Aretha Franklin's Influence: "She Is The Blueprint"
On August 16th, Aretha Franklin passed away at the age of 76 after a fight with pancreatic cancer. Naturally, tributes in honor of the Queen of Soul have poured out incessantly.
Most recently Janelle Monae issued a heartfelt statement, honoring Franklin and acknowledging the legend’s own impact in her life.
“I love Aretha Franklin. I had the opportunity to share a stage with her at the White House and perform for the Obamas, and I got a chance to hug her and tell her I loved her. That was amazing,” Monae tells Billboard in a statement.
She also goes on to pinpoint Franklin’s musicianship, including her piano playing, as catalysts that led her to discover music herself. “I feel like she is the blueprint -- her musicianship, the way she plays a piano, which is not spoken about a lot, is inspiring to me. I play guitar, and it made me want to play an instrument because of her.”
On August 31st, Aretha Franklin will be honored with a star-studded memorial service in her hometown of Detroit with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Rev. Al Sharpton, and former President Bill Clinton all scheduled to appear.
“Her voice is phenomenal. When you think of soul, when you think of ad-libbing and running and gut-wrenching singing and playing, she's the one who comes to mind,” Janelle concludes. “She was doing it at a young age and I feel like she's the musical DNA for so many people. She will be missed and will forever live on -- for the next generation and the next generation. Her music and her impact is that incredible. She's in our DNA.”