Teachers remember the Queen of Soul

Reynolds attended Aretha Franklin concert at IU


Mrs. Maribeth Cloud ’86 shows off her certificate from winning a high school lip synch contest during which she performed an Aretha Franklin song.

Megaphone Staff

The Aug. 16 death of Aretha Franklin prompted several faculty and staff members to share memories of their experience listening to her music and attending her concerts.

“I loved Aretha Franklin. I never got to see her in concert, but one of my favorite memories of Aretha is in the movie ‘The Blues Brothers’ where she works in a diner and sings ‘Think.’ We used to sing her songs in college and at parties. Biology teacher Mrs. Sue Mills

“The music of Aretha Franklin meant everything to me. I have always referred to her as my ‘soul’ sister.  I actually won a lip sync contest when I was a Cathedral student in 1986. I sang ‘Natural Woman’ in 1986.  I have the certificate at my desk to prove it. Good times!” Enrollment manager coordinator Mrs. Maribeth Cloud ’86

“Not only did Aretha Franklin have a powerful voice, her songs had a powerful message. I remember singing songs like ‘Think’ and ‘Respect.’ Those songs were so empowering, especially to young women. There will never be another Queen of Soul.” Director marketing Mrs. Grace Trahan-Rodecap

“I’m a native of Auburn Hills, Michigan, just about a 40-minute drive northeast of Detroit. Motown has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and most especially the rich alto voice and addictive rhythms of Aretha Franklin. The messages of her music, in part, helped me to understand, growing up, that women can be beautiful and powerful, soulful and fierce, and most importantly, that we don’t have to be ashamed of any of those traits. In fact, we can be lauded for them. She, like so many artists of the mid-to late 20th century, helped to redefine in popular culture what it meant to be an American woman: strong, independent and not afraid to demand the respect she deserves. For that, and for the timeless enjoyment of her music, I am thankful for her.” English teacher Mrs. Jen Shevlin

“Aretha Franklin was the face of the culture of Motown music, African-Americans and women in the ‘60s and ‘70s. ‘Respect’ was a mantra for all ages and genders and races, one that could be the soundtrack for how everyone should treat everyone. It begs to be listened to reflectively in present day choices about our behavior. I saw her live in a spring 1970 concert, likely Little 500, in the (Indiana University) stadium, and her dynamic performance is indelibly etched in my eyes and ears.” Consultant Mrs. Marcia Reynolds-Reyman

“At one point, especially in college, I knew the words to all of her songs: ‘Respect,’ ‘I Say a Little Prayer,’ ‘Chain of Fools.’  I probably still do. I never had the chance to see her perform in concert, but her rendition of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ (at President Obama’s inauguration) was a really powerful moment for many of us.” English department co-chair Mrs. Liz Browning 

This story was updated on Aug. 18 at 9:44 a.m.