The body of Aretha Franklin’s creative work spans over four decades and is deeply woven into America’s musical and cultural history. In recognition of her contributions to American culture, Aretha Franklin will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Case Western Reserve University. While honorary degrees typically are awarded during commencement ceremonies, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first female inductee will receive her doctorate degree at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, during the American Music Master’s tribute concert at the Playhouse Square State Theatre in Cleveland.
Lady Soul is a woman who rocks
The concert concludes the weeklong celebration, “Lady Soul: the Life and Music of Aretha Franklin,” a reflection on Franklin’s legacy and contributions to popular music. In conjunction with the Museum’s latest special exhibit, Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, the Museum will honor Franklin’s work and her enduring influence.
Sharing a moment with the Queen of Soul
The 18-time Grammy Award winner will receive her honorary doctorate from Case Western Reserve President Barbara R. Snyder. Witnessing and sharing Aretha Franklin’s academic moment are other Hall of Fame Inductees and concert performers. They include the Temptations’ Dennis Edwards and Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers.
Case Western Reserve University recognizes the power of music
Case Western Reserve University has partnered for 16 years with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The university’s College of Arts and Sciences has a commitment to the study of popular music with the recent establishment of a Rock and Popular Music Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Mary E. Davis, chair of the university’s Department of Music, nominated Franklin for the degree, citing Franklin as a voice in American social, political and cultural history. Dr. Davis indicated, “Her songs are the soundtrack to an era of change and empowerment, documenting and resonating with the civil rights movement. The conferring of the degree is an extraordinary moment of recognition for one of the greatest musicians of our time.”
Top of the charts
Aretha Franklin, born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, was surrounded by the beat of Motown and gospel from New Bethel Baptist Church where her father, the Rev. C. L. Franklin, led his congregation and was at the forefront of the civil rights movement. In 1956, at age 14, she recorded Spirituals and launched a career that would enrich popular music with such hits as “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You,” “Do Right Woman-Do Right Man,” “Dr. Feelgood,” and her unforgettable rendition of Otis Redding’s “Respect.”
Dr. Aretha Franklin‘s 40-year career has resulted in sales of 75 million records, among which 45 were Top Forty singles. She landed 98 times on the R&B charts—with 20 No. 1 hits. The 16th annual American Music Masters event and her honorary doctorate are a reflection of Aretha Franklin’s extraordinary achievement in the music and social history of America. Dr. Aretha Franklin has earned her national respect and recognition for her memorable artistic and cultural contributions.