Mesfin Fekadu, AP, April 15, 2019
Aretha Franklin is still getting R-E-S-P-E-C-T after death: The Queen of Soul received the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation honor Monday, becoming the first individual woman to earn a special citation prize since the honor was first awarded in 1930.
The Pulitzer board said the award was given to Franklin for ‘her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.’
Franklin died on August 16 at her home in Detroit from pancreatic cancer at age 76.
The superstar musician was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when she entered the prestigious organization in 1987.
Before Monday, only 41 special citation prizes had been awarded since 1930, and winners have ranged from individual people to organizations and groups, including the New York Times, writers E.B. White, Alex Haley and Kenneth Roberts, and Columbia University and its Graduate School of Journalism. Franklin and the Capital Gazette newspaper received special citation honors this year.
She sold millions of albums and won countless awards, including 18 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
She performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and even sang at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and at the dedication of Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial.