Aretha Franklin, 18-time Grammy-winner and first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died last week at age 76. When I think of Aretha Franklin, I think of the passion that encompassed her being. She made you feel what she was singing about. She sang the heck out of the Carole King-penned classic ”(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” is one of the greatest songs ever recorded. Few have put their spin on the powerful song, including King, but it was the The Queen of Soul’s original version that remains a treasured masterpiece. Through her music, through her unwavering support of human and civil rights and her love for all people, she remained a constant unifier. Aretha’s career began in the late 1950s, during the onset of the civil rights movement. She didn’t score a charting single until 1961 when “Won’t Be Long” peaked at No. 76. She soon built a growing fan base that never left her side. With minor success on the Columbia label, Aretha left to sign with Atlantic. That move changed everything. It was her 1967 album “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You” that broke the mold. The title track hit No. 9, but it was “Respect” that put her on top. “Respect” is what Aretha got after that song was released. It topped the Hot 100 singles chart, ensuring that things would never be the same for her. Multiple hit singles followed, including “Baby I Love You,” ”(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain Of Fools,” ”(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Ben Gone,” “Ain’t No Way,” “The House That Jack Built,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Think.“ The ’70s gave us “Don’t Play That Song,” “You And Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Day Dreaming,” “Until You Come Back To Me,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “I’m In Love.“ I didn’t learn to appreciate Aretha’s music until my teen years during the ’80s. Her album “Who’s Zooming Who” was huge for me in 1985. “Freeway Of Love” remains a go-to jam. The album also featured Aretha with Annie Lennox on “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.“ My favorite song has to be her incredible duet of “I Knew You Waiting For Me” with George Michael from her ’87 album “Aretha.” This amazing duet united two of the most amazing voices in music history and I loved it. The song reached No. 1. I was fortunate to see Aretha perform live in 1996. I had been in recovery from illness and it was one of my first outings in public. I can remember her walking onto the outdoor stage on the campus of MSU. She was so happy and proud to be there, because her son was a student there. She sang her heart out that night. I loved seeing such a diverse crowd, gathered to witness her undeniable talent. Aretha touched my heart that night, but she moved my soul, too, when she performed “Amazing Graze.” It was beautiful. Thank you for all the many, many years of amazing music. You will definitely be missed. Much R-E-S-P-E-C-T. — David T. Farr can be reached at email@example.com.