All Hail the Queen


There is something about this performance that speaks to one aspect of the history of America’s relationship to African American culture and vice versa.

On display here are two eternal forces, both mothership vessels, one that carries black life itself and the other, the symbolic essence of that life with its past and present of degradation, to resilience, to freedom through creativity and self-expression.

It is especially powerful that the forces are joined here, Black woman/mother and Black music, embodied in the iconic figure, Aretha Franklin. Seen here is the triumph of the African American spirit—the historic Black aesthetic, the musical and spiritual expression of a cultural experience—as well as the reverence and awe of those that bear witness to its majesty and bask in the glory of momentary bliss that it has created since it was first used as a means of sheer survival.

In Carol King, there is the example of the empathetic fellow human being, one who participates freely and unreservedly and champions the cause as well as its messenger. An evolved soul such as hers can embrace and absorb the influence, unintimidated, and create significantly in her own way, to the degree of greatness. However, she will never feel too elite, entitled or ashamed to admit the importance of that influence, or to openly display her emotional reaction to it.

What is most meaningful, in addition to Mrs. Franklin’s performance itself (which is really beyond words in its beauty, weight and significance), is the audience’s reaction to it. Rarely in this day and age do the masses take part in such impromptu and unfettered ‘call and response’. There was no time here for music-business exploitation, misappropriation, redirection, elitist validation, institutionalization, codification, commercialization, or any other attempt to control. The only available moments were those between the beats of hearts, the sounds of ears, the falling tears and the clapping of hands.