On 16th February 1968, Aretha Franklin turned in an outstanding performance at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. The Mayor of Detroit, Jerome P. Cavanagh, gave a speech at the event and declared the date ‘Aretha Franklin Day’. Local disc jockey Martha Jean ‘the Queen’ Steinberg, co-hosting the event, proclaimed Franklin “everybody’s soul sister.”
By all accounts it was an evening with many highlights, but surely it would have been hard to match the appearance of Dr. Martin Luther King to present her with a special award from the Southern Christian Leadership Council, which Franklin’s father also sat on. Rev. C.L. Franklin and Dr. King were friends, and shared a mutual admiration built during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
‘Aretha Franklin Day’ allowed many people to shower her with the respect she deserved, so there is only really one song we could play, her souped-up version of Otis Reddings’ ‘Respect’. Sing it, soul sister…