Aretha My Soul Inspiration

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My home today is a soul, blues, jazz, dance celebration of the queen of soul. I’m shell-shocked. My solution is to play her music non-stop in celebration of the gift she gave. Her music has been the backdrop and soundtrack to my life since I can remember. When I moved to Ghana as a small child I remember thinking ‘what was that song’, that was just so evocative of being in England, and just so special to me. I would hear the intro in my head, and be right back at home in London. I could hear that intro going round and round in my mind. It turned out to be the piano intro, with the double beat that sounds to me like a heartbeat, to ‘Don’t Play That Song‘ [Intro lyrics: Don’t play that song to me, Cos it brings back memories, Of the days that I once knew, The days I spent with you] just one of my hugely favourite songs of hers. In every phase of my life her songs have always been there…

I remember listening to all her music on non-stop repeat in Mexico during the year abroad of my language degree, travelling back and forth from the town of Xalapa to Mexico City, and all through my year abroad. I hear Spanish Harlem or Bridge Over Troubled Water and I’m immediately right back there gazing out of the coach window at the amazing otherworldly Mexican desert landscape, the cacti. Clubbing with friends to her dance tracks like ‘Who’s Zooming Who‘ [always love it when she brings in the sassy vibe and speaks in a song ‘You will remember my name, I’m the one who beat you at your game!’ or ‘Thanks, I’ll get it myself!’ my favourite line from ‘Sisters are Doing It For Themselves’]’, good times, sad times… her music was always there, encouraging, empowering, comforting, celebrating…

When I started out singing my set always included her songs. They were just so part of me, as comfortable as breathing. For me, Natural Woman felt so natural, it always got a great response, as did many others. People would recommend some of her songs I should try, relatives would send me her music I’d never heard to listen to. I remember playing one song at least six times in a row by popular demand of the audience at a celebration for the Hunger Project UK, because I brought slow songs me and my band had rehearsed, and the audience seriously wanted to dance. That was one of the few fast songs I brought, so we played it over and over again, and the people danced and danced. We had absolutely no complaints! There is nothing like Aretha’s music and Aretha’s voice.

She is a true, true inspiration. I’ll be driving people here nuts for a while playing her songs on repeat.

Thank you from my heart to the Queen of Soul

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