Michigan musicians cover Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' in honor of International Women's Day


Michigan performers come together virtually to collaborate on an Aretha Franklin cover. - SCREEN GRAB/YOUTUBE
  • Screen grab/YouTube
  • Michigan performers come together virtually to collaborate on an Aretha Franklin cover.

When the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, recorded her groundbreaking anthem of equality, empowerment, and solidarity in 1967, women were prohibited from getting a credit card in their name, safely complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace, could not legally deny their husband sex, and, if pregnant, could legally be fired from their jobs ... for being pregnant.

In the 54 years since Franklin released her rendition and reimagining of “Respect” — originally recorded by Otis Redding several years earlier, which offered a much different and hyper-misogynistic view on the topic of, well, respect — we've come a long way in terms of women's rights, but the song and its message remain powerful reminders of the work yet to be done. (Equal pay, anyone?)

Honoring International Women's Day (which, like, doesn't guarantee women the day off and, instead, tasks them with the emotional labor of celebrating themselves) is the reason for the season for the more than two dozen musicians, performers, and vocalists hailing from Franklin's home state who came together to demand a little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

The Grand Rapids-based Michigan Music Alliance organized an ambitious collaboration between 25 female artists, as well as engineers and producers, throughout the state in cooperation with five Michigan recording studios for an electric, saxophone-heavy, and soulful rendition of Franklin's hit classic.

Vocalists Serita (aka Black Rose) and Sarena Rae teamed up to tackle Franklin's larger than life vocal performance, with a former Franklin collaborator Gayelynn McKinney on drums, as well as performances by Christina Nielsen (Jack & the Bear), Josi Ala, Ingrid Racine, Zoe Cutler, Sami Blosser, BethAnne Kunert, Kaleigh Wilder, Emily Burns, Alice Sun, and others.

The track was released Monday with a video composed of each individual artist's behind-the-scenes recording experience, and the making of will be the subject of an upcoming episode of the Impactually podcast, which will also look at “the musical legacies that are being created by women of Michigan.”

You can watch the Michigan Music Alliance's “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” performance below.

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