Aretha Franklin Makes History With Posthumous Pulitzer Prize

Aretha Franklin performs in concert at Radio City Music Hall on February 18, 2012, in New York. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Aretha Franklin is making history almost a year after her death in August 2018.

The Queen of Soul was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize Monday “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades,” a press release stated.

Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 76, is the first woman to receive a special Pulitzer citation award.

“Congratulations to @ArethaFranklin and her family and friends. #Pulitzer #QueenOfSoul #Respect,” the Pulitzer Prizes’ Twitter account tweeted, paying homage to the singer’s 1967 hit, “Respect.”

“The Pulitzer Prizes, and these special award citations, stand for work of breadth, excellence and consequence in making our society a better place to be,” Neil Brown, Poynter’s president and a Pulitzer Prize board member, added in a statement. “Aretha Franklin’s contributions remain deep, inspiring and altogether fitting of such recognition.”

Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and the executor of her estate, also spoke out about the honor.

“Aretha is blessed and highly favored even in death. She’s continued to receive multiple awards — she’s received almost every award imaginable and now to get the Pulitzer Prize, it’s just amazing,” Owens told The Associated Press.

She added: “Aretha continues to bless us with her music and just paving the way for women going forward. It’s thrilling. She would be so happy right now.”

Other recipients of the special citation award include Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, and John Coltrane, to name a few examples.

Aretha Franklin (Credit: YouTube)
Franklin passed away at age 76 from pancreatic cancer. (Credit: YouTube)

News of Franklin’s award came 10 days after the long-lost documentary, Amazing Grace, hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, April 5.

The doc covers the recording of Franklin’s best-selling gospel album of the same name, and the live performances were filmed over two days at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972.

The project — which was delayed for decades due to technical and legal issues — received high praise from critics across the board.