Cathy Hughes, the Founder and Chairperson of Urban One, Inc., who counted Aretha Franklin as a close friend, issued the following statement following the announcement of the Queen of Soul’s death on Thursday:
For more than 60 years, Aretha Franklin shared her gift and touched the world. She was a musical pioneer whose voice defines an era, amplifies a sound and reflects the range of who we are as black people. It is no wonder that Rolling Stone Magazine listed her as number one on its list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”
Aretha’s music commanded “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and that song not only became a rallying cry during the civil rights movement but also served as an anthem for women who still identify with its message, today. Her timeless classics also became historical markers in our personal journeys and our collective story as a community. She understood her progress was our progress, her success was our success, and when the door opened for her, it opened for us as well. Aretha was unapologetically black. She was committed to black music and black radio. She understood its role in her career and remained loyal to our company across the years.
Like many of our musicians, Aretha’s musical roots are embedded in the black church, and gospel music was at her core. Her talent transcended genres and not only earned her the title of the “Queen of Soul” but also the distinction of being the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And while many will remember her for all of the titles she has received, I believe, Aretha Franklin, in her own words, said it best, “being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that.” And Aretha Franklin, so are we. Rest in peace my sister.
With total love, respect and appreciation,