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Remembering Aretha: A WNY icon

Posted: 6:13 PM, Aug 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-16 18:13:28-04

Aretha Franklin's iconic voice will echo throughout Western New York for years to come.

"Basically her music is the soundtrack for my life," Geraldine Boyles, a childhood neighbor of Franklin, said.

Boyles lives in California now, but about 60 years ago the two lived just a few houses away from each other.

"Going to the store and her letting me pick the candies that I wanted, and then she paid for them," Boyles said.

Aretha's family moved to Buffalo when she was about two years old. She spent the next several years in Buffalo before her parents divorced. She moved to Detroit with her dad.

Even though she considered the Motor City her home, the Queen of Soul would come back to the Queen City for visits in the summer.

"Everybody looked forward to those kids coming every summer because they were from the big city," Boyles said.

Aretha's mother worked as a nurse at Buffalo General Hospital. Her father was a pastor at the Friendship Baptist Church. 

Boyles use to go to the CCD, the weekday equivalent of Sunday school, with Aretha. Boyles remembers how Aretha would sing all the time in CCD.

"It was amazing. It was like I wish I could sing like that they were amazing," Boyles said.

Singing gospel music is where ita ll started for Aretha.

"I think about her roots here in Western New York as a gospel singer," Caprice Butts, a gospel singer and music director at Prayer Tower Cathedral Church.

"The riffs she would do, you know? The riffs I would hear every Sunday morning in church," Butts said.

She things it was Aretha's gospel roots that made her one of the greatest singers of all time. She was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2016, among many other prestigious awards.

"I think about Aretha being the queen of soul because no matter what she sang she touched your soul."

 

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