Clevelander Reflects on Her Lifelong Friend, Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin at the Democratic National Nominating Convention in Madison Square Garden in 1992. [mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com]
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Singer Aretha Franklin died this morning of advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76. 

Among the many people mourning her death is a Clevelander with a personal connection to the “Queen of Soul”.  Business executive and community leader Carole Hoover’s ties to Franklin date back six decades to when they were teenagers.  Both were the daughters of influential preachers who were also prominent voices in the Civil Rights movement, C.L. Franklin, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit and Odie Hoover, spiritual leader of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland.

Carole Hoover

“She started singing in her father’s choir when she was 12 years old,” Hoover said, adding that she proudly watched her friend progress from being a featured performer in the choir to an internationally-known singer.

When Hoover was appointed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s executive leadership team in charge of fundraising, she turned to Franklin for help.

“We connected in a very serious way around her commitment and support of the Civil Rights Movement, particularly her dedication and support for the work Dr. King was doing,” Hoover said. That support included performing at special concerts, as well as personal donations.

After a musical life devoted to lifting spirts and supporting social justice, Hoover said Franklin leaves a formidable legacy

“It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful.”

One of Aretha Franklin's most memorable Northeast Ohio performances was at a 2005 tribute to singer Sam Cooke, sponsored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Case Western Reserve University:

 

 

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