Since the death of iconic singer and recording artist Aretha Franklin on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, followed by her epic funeral on Friday, Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple on Detroit’s far west side, The Queen of Soul’s name has consistently been in the news for various reasons.
Just in the past two weeks, an Oakland County Probate Court judge ruled to place the Franklin estate’s administration under court supervision. Various family members of Franklin are vying for either control/oversight of the estate, or at least a fair share of the estate, which some entities have appraised at $80 million – and growing. Who will ultimately get what, carries great financial impact.
Case-in-point: With additional monies generated from future projects bearing Franklin’s name, likeness and image, the worth of her estate could skyrocket exponentially. Through recording distribution – on multi-digital platforms and more conventional platforms – deals linked to the re-release of any combination of Franklin’s multiplicity of hit songs recorded since 1967 would add appreciatively to her estate. And if there are previously unreleased songs recorded by Franklin that are made available to the public, the worth of Franklin’s estate greatly grows.
And films, television programming, and documentaries about the life of The Queen of Soul would pay huge dividends to Franklin’s estate. The film, “Amazing Grace” released last November have, by some industry indicators, grossed more than $5 million. It’s now on DVD. The film is the storied gospel concert shot in a Los Angeles church in 1972, which led to Franklin’s live album, “Amazing Grace” released by Atlantic Records.
In addition, consider that MGM is reportedly accepting digital auditions for the role of the Queen of Soul when she was between 10 and 14 years old. The MGM film, projected to be released sometime next year or 2021, has already secured singer and recording artist Jennifer Hudson to play Franklin’s adult years. Franklin was said to have chosen Hudson to play the starring role when the bio-pic was first discussed in 2017 into 2018. The film, when released, is expected to do very well at the box office worldwide
Additionally, the use of Franklin’s music in other movies, besides those associated with her, will also add to the worth of her estate. This includes her image, likeness, name, voice and music used in television commercials, on television shows, and a litany of other audio and visual platforms, inclusive of the internet.
And speaking of Hudson again, she honored Franklin in May of this year at the 103rdclass of Pulitzer Prize winners, held at Columbia University in New York. Hudson closed the program with a musical tribute to Franklin. The Queen was being honored at the program, posthumously, with a special citation for her life’s contributions to the Arts, Drama and Music.
Franklin has also made news on other fronts since her death. In May of this year, Chene Park, the popular downtown Detroit amphitheater known for its top-tier summer concerts, was renamed The Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre.
Earlier this month, Boston-based Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation announced the formation of the Aretha Franklin Fund for Neuroendocrine Cancer Research. The Foundation vows to conduct research in an effort to find a cure for the rare form of pancreatic cancer that took Franklin’s life.
In July, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that approved a portion of The John C. Lodge Expressway (M-10) to be called “Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway.”
“I’m honored to be able to dedicate a portion of the M-10 freeway to remember Aretha and all she did for our state,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Aretha Franklin was an American icon. She began her career here in the heart of Detroit. Her creativity and voice contributed to our musical and culture history in Michigan.”
And while it hasn’t been talked about publicly – at least not yet – there’s been conversations among a group of Detroit business, civic and cultural movers and shakers who are interested in building an Aretha Franklin Historical Museum in the city, which the group feels would be perhaps the highest tribute the city can bestow on Franklin. A stand-alone museum, 100% devoted to Aretha Franklin would make it one of Detroit’s “must-see” designations for Detroiters and the thousands of visitors who come to the Motor City annually.
The idea was sparked, in part, by an exhibit chronicling the life of Franklin, called “THINK,” which was unveiled at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The exhibit was on display from September, 2018 to January, 2019. Additionally, the Detroit Historical Museum currently has the exhibit ARETHA, comprised of art and artifacts that exemplify the life, times and music of Franklin. Both exhibits have been well received by the public.
With Franklin being the iconic figure that she became, and still represents globally, there will be more posthumous awards, honors, adulations and naming opportunities on the horizon, as Aretha Franklin continues to live forever in the minds, hearts and souls of people who believe, she was “The Greatest Singer of All Time