Forty Years of ‘Respect’

Forty Years of ‘Respect’

Aretha Franklin's Grammy award-winning hit gets its propers in this celebratory Emmy-winning multimedia package.
In June 1967, the saucy track from Aretha Franklin captured the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart, and in the four decades since its release, folks have been singing it — at times off-key — ever since.

“Respect,” as Franklin sang it, has been featured on the soundtrack of more than a dozen films, has been heard in numerous TV shows and has been belted out on many a karaoke night. The Grammy award-winning song has passed down through generations, crossed cultural divides and volleyed through musical genres.

The Queen of Soul’s rendition of “Respect” is one of the most influential recordings in pop music history and one of the most indelible songs to come out of the rock and roll era. The single and the album it was featured on catapulted Franklin, who was 25 years old at the time, to global fame.

Timing played an integral role. The song added to a 1960s soundtrack of music, a grouping of songs that served as a backdrop to the pain and glory of a tumultuous time. It gave an anthem to the civil rights movement and ultimately it served as a call to arms for women everywhere. This extravagent multimedia package is centered around a video that places the song, first written and recorded by Otis Redding, in the context of the church and the frustrations of women and African Americans.

Male, female, black, white – everyone can relate to this spunky tune.

In this Emmy-winning celebratory multimedia package, The Detroit Free Press ( augments its print article with a slew of individual videos, not only about Aretha and the song (including a joyous videomontage of karaoke wannabes), but also insightful interviews with her producer, her son, a backup singer, fellow R&B musicians, a sociologist, and staffers Mandi Wright (videographer) and Kelley L. Carter (reporter).

But wait, there’s more: a quiz, a discussion board, a 33-image slideshow of historic photos, and (inventively maximizing interactivity) an opportunity for viewers to phone in and sing (or email MP3 audio files of themselves singing) “Respect” – with the top amateur results posted online. PLUS: links to Reflections on ‘Respect,’ a timeline of social history and Franklin’s career, ‘Respect’ at the movies, ‘Respect’ lyrics, Franklin’s ‘Respect’ on the charts, and other No.1 Hits of 1967.

Winner: News and Documentary Emmy Award, New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Arts, Lifestyle & Culture.

Video and audio: Mandi Wright

Reporting: Kelley L. Carter

Online and Video Executive Producer: Nancy Andrews

Senior video producer: Kathy Kieliszewski

Video producers: Brian Kaufman, Mandi Wright

Director of Videography: Craig Porter

Additional Video: Elisha Anderson

Interactive Design and Production: Brian Todd

Picture Editor: Diane Weiss

Video graphics: Stephen McGee

Web production: Brian Todd, Rick Nease

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