Aretha Franklin Makes History With Posthumous Pulitzer Prize Win

Aretha died in August last year.

Aretha Franklin has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize special citation, becoming the first individual woman to earn the prize since it was first awarded in 1930.

Aretha died last August, at the age of 76, and the Pulitzer board said the award was awarded to her for an “indelible” contribution to American music and culture.

This is far from the first time that Aretha has made history and back in 1987, she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Jose Luis Magaua / Reuters

The Pulitzer board most recently awarded a special citation prize in 2010 to Hank Williams, the country music legend who died in 1953.

From the arts world, other recipients include Bob Dylan, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin and Roger Sessions.

Franklin’s inclusion reconfirms the impact her music and voice continues to have on the world.

The Queen of Soul was a cultural icon, considered by many to be the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her voice transcended age, category and her own life.

She was a professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens and a superstar by her mid-20s.

Raised in Detroit, Aretha recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over half a century.

But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of Top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, to the wised-up Chain Of Fools to her unstoppable call for Respect, transforming Otis Redding’s song into a classic worldwide anthem — especially for the feminist and civil rights movements — making it one of the most recognisable and heard songs of all-time.

She sold millions of albums and won countless awards, including 18 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

She performed at the inaugurations of presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and even sang at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and at the dedication of Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial.

Rolling Stone put Aretha at the head of its list of the Top 100 singers and she was named one of the 20 most important entertainers of the 20th century by Time magazine.

Aretha Franklin


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