Aretha Franklin for president 2

Fashion · Music

The editorial board of arts•meme — that would be me — loved the Inauguration. So did every single person in the entire world.

We loved each of the show’s art events. We loved the fashion, the poetry, and we loved the multi-ethnic classical quartet of Jew, black, Asian, and Latina. (In post-racial America, we notice this less.)

The interlude of chamber music seemed to soothe the entire crazy nation if only for minutes. (Later, controversy struck this chamber group.)

But nothing could usher in our beautiful new administration in a blaze of fire and brimstone as did Aretha Franklin ripping her glorious way through every school kid’s favorite song, My Country ‘Tis of Thee.

Taking no prisoners.

Aretha Franklin performs during the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

One warble from her great throat, and the mighty, measured pace of her opening phrase put this American into tears. Her royal highness, the queen of soul, in her rightful place at the throne of the kingdom.

The voice, admittedly somewhat ravaged, but in its imperfection I found beauty. Impeccable was her concept, her grasp of the song, her deconstruction and lusty regeneration of its thin melody and lyric.

Listen to what this great artist does with the second verse, esp the words author and holy:

“Our fathers’ God, to thee,
author of liberty,
to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.”

p.s. I also loved the hat.

2 thoughts on “Aretha Franklin for president

  1. Glenn Jan 19,2013 8:14 am

    Yes, THE HAT!!!!

    The hat actually got a Facebook page.

    And I’ll be out on the Mall again this year. Happily, ’twill be
    30 degrees warmer!

  2. Mark Jan 23,2009 7:08 am

    Very well stated. I though she was a little rough in the voice too but the performance was so much bigger than just the quality of her voice.

    Bravo Aretha and go Obama!

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