For six decades, the world had countless opportunities to be stunned by the talent and range of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at age 76 of pancreatic cancer.
Her long recording career was punctuated by iconic performances that could stir a nation, get an ordinary concertgoer out of their seat and dancing and reduce a sitting president to tears.
Here is a look back at just a few of those moments.
Fillmore West (1971)
Franklin’s performance over three nights at the storied San Francisco venue stands among the best live albums in American music, and includes a surprise duet with Ray Charles and her version of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” a song that became synonymous with her.
Live at the New Temple Baptist Missionary Church, Los Angeles (1972)
The roots of Franklin’s life and music could be found in the church. So at the height of her fame, long after she had crossed over from gospel singer to R&B sensation, Franklin went to South Central L.A. and performed over two nights at the New Temple Baptist Missionary Church before a live congregation and with the assistance of gospel star Reverend James Cleveland.
The result was the best-selling album “Amazing Grace.”
A camera crew was present for the momentous concerts. Decades later, a documentary that included footage from the “Amazing Grace” concerts was to screen at the Telluride Film Festival, but Franklin’s lawyers swooped in to stop it. (The trailer for the documentary had already been released.)
But for now, fans only have the live album as a record of those concerts.
“Blues Brothers” (1980)
At the time, Franklin’s career had hit a bit of a slump, as she was navigating pop music’s transition through soul to disco. Her comedic turn in the Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi comedy “Blues Brothers” was credited with helping to revive her career, and introducing the Queen of Soul to a whole new audience.
In the movie, she performed “Think” off her 1968 album “Aretha Now.”
The movie studio actually wanted a newer contemporary act, such as the band Rose Royce, in place of Franklin; “the creatives” behind the movie refused to budge, Vanity Fair reported.
Filling in for Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys (1998)
The ailing master tenor opera singer had to back out of his Grammy performance at the last moment, so his friend stepped in for him. Franklin sang, in Italian, the aria “Nessun Dorma.”
Her performance floored the audience and become an international sensation.
The first Obama inauguration (2009)
The Queen had sung already during the inaugurations of two previous presidents (Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton), but she brought extra power and symbolism to the 2009 inauguration of America’s first black president, Barack Obama.
Franklin also sang on numerous occasions in the Obama White House.
Bringing President Obama to tears (2015)
When the annual Kennedy Center Honors selected singer-songwriter Carole King for recognition, it was Franklin who stole the show.
King’s jaw dropped as Franklin, in a floor-length fur coat, sat before a piano and belted out the 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” written by King and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin.
President Obama also sat in the audience, awestruck and wiping away tears. As she neared the end of the song, Franklin stood up, dropped her coat to the ground and belted out the final notes. The roaring audience leapt to its feet.
Franklin told the New Yorker it was “one of the three or four greatest nights of my life.”
The national anthem at the Lions-Vikings Thanksgiving Day game (2016)
At 74, Detroit’s own delivered a nearly five-minute rendition of the national anthem to kick off the Thanksgiving Day game between the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.
Although Franklin had sung the national anthem countless times before, her performance at this game showed off her vocal staying power, became a viral sensation, and introduced her singing prowess and style to a whole new generation (once again).