Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul, but her appeal and influence was so universal it extended to nearly every other musical genre, including country.
Thursday morning, some of the biggest stars in the country format responded to the loss of the 76-year-old legend, who died from advanced pancreatic cancer at her home in Detroit.
Reba McEntire is the country artist with perhaps the most obvious connection to the Queen of Soul: her cover of Aretha’s signature song, "Respect," became a concert favorite, and in 1988, she recorded the tune on her Reba album.
“I’ve had so many influences in my life,” Reba tweeted on Thursday, “and one of them is the Queen of Soul. Rest In Peace, Aretha.”
“I’ll sing this one for you,” she added, along with a clip of her performing “Respect.”
Tim McGraw included a clip of Aretha singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at President Obama’s first inauguration along with his tribute.
“The queen of soul… There will never be another,” Tim offered. “So much love and respect from the McGraw family. A friend of mine told me once, ‘When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced, live your life so that when you’re gone, the world cries and you rejoice.’”
Tim's wife Faith Hill shared a treasured photo with the legend, showing her smiling as Aretha's outstretched hand reaches toward the camera's lens.
"The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus," Faith said. "I wanted to share this photo because it shows just how soulful Aretha was without uttering a word. To say I was humbled to be in her presence would be an understatement."
Darius Rucker also envisioned Aretha singing on high: "We lost one of the most important all time greats today. My love goes out to her family. Love you Aretha. That band in Heaven just got a lot better!!"
“Aretha,” Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles started simply. “The Queen of Soul. As singers, we all aspire to her passion, authenticity, and power. Her talents, gifts and contributions changed hearts and touched lives. She was and remains a national treasure. Rest in Power Queen.”
Rascal Flatts echoed the sentiment: “Rest in Peace, sweet Aretha #QueenOfSoul. We loved you and your music oh so much. An absolute legend that can never be replaced!”
“One of my favorites,” Jon Pardi chimed in. “Rest In Peace Queen of soul!” adding the hashtags #respect and #youbetterthink, referencing two of Aretha’s biggest hits.
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery summed up Aretha's impact on all singers: "Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. A woman with an incredible God-given voice who shared it with the world, and we were lucky to have her while we did. She paved the way for every entertainer who came after her. May she rest in peace."
Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in the coming days.
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