649 E. Boston Blvd
649 East Boston Boulevard was Aretha Franklin’s first childhood home in Detroit. It was a six bedroom parsonage* home that sits near the intersection of Boston and Oakland in Detroit’s North End Neighborhood. The North End is like another world inside the city. Everybody has a knickname. A longtime resident might know who your mom or dad is just by looking at you. It’s a place that frowns on being “book smart and street dumb”. There’s a saying that it’s bad luck to put your purse on the floor. The superstition comes from the people trying to steal your money out from under you. If you’re smart enough to count the dough, you should be intelligent enough to secure the bag. Aretha did just that.
Aretha Franklin didn’t just sing about respect, she demanded it. In an industry known for getting acts drunk or high, then conveniently forgetting to pay them or duping them with a bad check, Franklin insisted on being paid in cash. She was a black woman who would make you pump your brakes if you were actin’ out of place. Like that one time Wendy Williams implied she had gastric and Aretha church lady checked her.
Bigger than being the Queen of Soul was the fact that Franklin chewed up stereotypes like bubblegum. She was the little black girl that learned to play the family’s grand piano by ear. By the time she recorded her first album at age 14, live at her father’s church, she was already a mother. Through hard work, determination and family support Aretha Franklin became one of the most recognized and acclaimed musical voices of the twentieth century; she sang everything from gospel to jazz to blues to rock and roll. Aretha busted out of every box folks tried to put her in.
It’s fitting that the person who lived an extraordinary life will have an unforgettable farewell. Public viewings will take place Aug. 28-29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will take place on August 31st, 2018 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan at 10:00am. Aretha Franklin lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on August 16th, 2018. Aretha lives on in every story and every song she left behind. After more than six decades of music, accolades and anthems we wish you the freedom in death that may have escaped you in life.
*parsonage – a church house provided for a member of the clergy.
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