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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Aretha Franklin: Soul Music Loses its Queen, its Soul

Aretha Franklin: Soul Music Loses its Queen, its Soul

American soul music queen, singer Aretha Franklin, died on August 18, aged 76, of pancreatic cancer in Detroit, where she grew up. Memphis, Tennessee born Aretha was the daughter of Rev. C. L. Franklin, a Minister and gospel singer, and a staunch church-goer herself.

Unfortunately, her mother left the family when Aretha was just six years old and died when Aretha was 10. Her father was shot by burglars in 1979 and died in 1984, after five years in a comatose condition. She started gospel singing when she was 14. Aretha married twice, both marriages ending in divorce. Her husbands were Ted White and Glynn Turman.All this pain reflected in most of her songs. 

Franklin had serious health issues in recent years, when she was struggling with weight gain and associated diseases. In August 2010, she cancelled two free concerts in New York

She also cancelled some appearances in 2013. However, she recovered enough to return to touring four years later, in 2014, including a performance at New York's Radio City Music Hall, having lost 100 pounds. Her final album, "A Brand New Me," paired Franklin's original recordings of some of her greatest hits, music arrangements from London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In February 2017, Aretha announced that she would stop touring, but she continued to have concerts. Earlier this year, she cancelled two performances, including one at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, on medical advice. Her last performance was in November 2017, when she sang at the Elton John AIDS Foundation event, in New York.

Song selection

“Respect," written by Otis Redding,

“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," (a Carole King song)

"Eleanor Rigby"

"Bridge Over Troubled Water"

"Spanish Harlem"

"Think," (which she wrote with her then-husband, Ted White)

"My Country 'Tis of Thee" (at the inauguration of Barack Obama, in 2009)

"Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" (with the Eurythmics)

"I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)" (duet with George Michael, her last No. 1)

Album selection

Aretha 1961, The Electrifying Aretha Franklin 1962, Laughing on the Outside, The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin 1963, Running out of Fools, The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin 1964, Soul Sister 1966, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You 1967, Lady Soul, Aretha Now, Aretha in Paris 1968, Aretha's Gold 1969, This Girl's in Love with You, Spirit in the Dark 1970, Live at Fillmore West 1971, Young, Gifted and Black, Amazing Grace 1972, Hey Now Hey, The Best of Aretha Franklin, The First Twelve Sides 1973, Let Me in Your Life, With Everything I Feel in Me 1974, You 1975, Sparkle, Ten Years of Gold 1976, Sweet Passion 1977, Almighty Fire 1978, La Diva 1979. Aretha 1980, Love All the Hurt Away 1981, Jump to It, Get it Right 1983, One Lord, One Faith 1988, Through the Storm 1989, What You See is What You Sweat 1981, Jazz to Soul 1992, Aretha After Hours, Chain of Fools 1993, Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington 1995, Love Songs 1997.

Record labels: Columbia, Atlantic, Arista


  • The first woman admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • 88 Billboard chart hits during the rock era,
  • 18 Grammy awards, including the honour for best female R&B performance, for eight consecutive years
  • During an 18 month slot, 1967 to 1968, Franklin notched-up 10 Top Ten hits
  • American Music Award 1984
  • In 1986, her voice was declared a national resource, by the Michigan Legislature
  • She had an asteroid named after her
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1987
  • John F. Kennedy Center Award 1994


Aretha: From These Roots (autobiography, with David Ritz) 1998.

Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, by Mark Bego


 “The man who gets me is getting one hell of a woman.”

 “I sing to the realists. People who accept it like it is.”

 “I've always felt that rock & roll was very, very wholesome.”

“If a song's about something I've experienced or that could've happened to me it's good. But if it's alien to me, I couldn't lend anything to it. Because that's what soul is all about.”

 “Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”

Excerpt from a news report on Deadline Hollywood

Jennifer Hudson will be playing Aretha Franklin in an upcoming biopic about the life of the Queen of Soul. Hudson was in fact hand-picked by Franklin to play the role, announced Clive Davis at a pre-Grammy party.

Fox News update

Michael Hatton, 44, allegedly shot 47-year-old Tony Lundy over an argument about which actress (Halle Berry or Jennifer Hudson) should play late singer Aretha Franklin in a biopic movie, (based on her autobiography), according to the Suffolk Police Department. An apparent argument over which actress might play late singer Aretha Franklin in a movie escalated into a shooting outside a Virginia barber-shop Thursday, witnesses said. Entertainment Weekly reported in 2011 that Aretha Franklin wanted Halle Berry to play her in a potential movie based on her life.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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