The Queen of Soul lives on!
AARP has released a posthumous, unheard single titled “Stand Up for Yourself” recorded by Aretha Franklin in 2007 for an AARP-produced video. It served as the campaign theme song for the Divided We Fail Coalition, an effort to advance the health and financial security of all Americans.
“Aretha Franklin was not only the Queen of Soul, but also a civil rights icon and a champion for all Americans’ access to health care,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins. “In 2007, AARP worked with Ms. Franklin on an original song, ‘Stand Up for Yourself,’ which was the anthem for what, years later, became the Affordable Care Act.”
While the original recording was used internally to enliven AARP events, staff and volunteers during the 2008 election, “Now as we reflect on her cultural impact, we realize her message is as powerful today as it was when she created the song for us in 2007,” said Martha Boudreau, AARP Chief Communications and Marketing Officer. “We are thrilled to share it with the wider public today.”
“Franklin urged us to say ‘Let’s make the choice: We stand as one because divided we fail,'” added Jenkins, citing the song’s message of cultural and bipartisan unity for the betterment of all. “She will be missed.”
PEOPLE reported on Aug. 13 that Franklin was in the midst of a health crisis, with a friend of the artist explaining that the singer has “been ill for a long time” and her loved ones had been warned her “death is imminent.”
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The "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" singer last showcased her signature powerhouse vocals nine months before her death at the Elton John AIDS Foundation 25th anniversary benefit held at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine last November when she performed Dionne Warwick’s 1967 classic “I Say a Little Prayer.”
Elton John mourned Franklin’s death, thanking her for the performance at his benefit.
“I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance,” the singer, 71, wrote on Instagram and Twitter.
“She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her,” he said.