Creative Matters

Remembering the American Queen: Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)


  • Julia Watson The Ohio State University



Aretha Franklin, Aretha Franklin funeral, Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin in Detroit


In this relational vignette Watson recalls growing up in and around Detroit as Aretha Franklin and other great local singers, many with Motown, rose to prominence. Franklin’s style was informed not only by her childhood singing gospel songs in her father’s church but also by her musical passion and activist politics. Unable to attend any of the informal tributes in Detroit around Franklin’s memorial service because she was out of the country, Watson relates how a Berlin gathering became a spontaneous memorial to Franklin’s musical genius.

Author Biography

Julia Watson, The Ohio State University

Julia Watson is Academy Professor Emerita of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University, a former Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, an affiliated professor of Germanic Languages & Literatures and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, and a core faculty member of Project Narrative. With Sidonie Smith she has co-authored Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives (2nd. ed., 2010) and Life Writing in the Long Run: A Smith & Watson Autobiography Studies Reader of their collaborative and solo essays (2017, open access). They have also co-edited four collections of essays and a volume of short texts, and coauthored several essays, recently in the areas of testimony, online life narrative, and archives. Watson’s most recent essays are on autoethnographic film, online publishing, and women’s graphic memoirs, including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Miriam Katin’s Letting It Go. She has lectured and taught in 20 countries.


2022-10-11 — Updated on 2022-11-04




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