News hit this weekend that “The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin is gravely ill and surrounded by family in Detroit.
What many might not know is that the 76-year-old has a Western New York connection.
“My dad knew her and would talk about Aretha’s talent. I used to hear that all the time. This girl is going to make it and go places,” Buffalo Musician, Van Taylor said.
Taylor remembers The Queen of Soul living part of her childhood in the Queen City. Aretha Franklin grew up on Glenwood Avenue, after her family moved to Buffalo from Memphis, Tennessee. Her mother Barbara was a nurse at Buffalo General Hospital, while her father the late CL Franklin was a pastor at Friendship Baptist Church. It was the first time Taylor heard Aretha blow.
“She could sing. Oh! She could sing,” Taylor said.
Franklin left the Nickel City for the Motor City in 1948 with her family. Her mom then separated from her dad and moved back to Buffalo. The queen would return for summer visits. Even after her mother’s death Franklin would come back to visit her mother’s grave at Forest Lawn Cemetery as well as childhood friends and family.
Taylor said it’s no doubt that Aretha would become the massive star she is today.
“I had the chance to walk in and hear her actually record some tracks. An amazing experience and actually it last with me unto this day,” the Buffalo musician said.
Franklin earned 18 Grammys, performed for presidents and named #1 vocalist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. She was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Class of 2016. But the queen was not able to make it to the ceremony.
“Right after that she slowed cut her touring down because of health,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he’s praying for Franklin. He said no matter what, her legacy will live on into the next generation of music.