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Remembering Aretha Franklin and Her Heartfelt Connection With Nelson Mandela

In honor of the Queen of Soul's immeasurable impact, we revisit her passionate support of Nelson Mandela, and the anti-apartheid movement, through her musical tributes.

Iconic singer, Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul" passed away on Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Franklin was considered by many to be the greatest singer of all time. Her influence on popular music cannot be overstated. The legendary artist sold 75 million records and earned 18 Grammys in a career spanning six decades and she was influential in many global social movements as well.

Having been a widely-embraced public figure for so long, Franklin was present for some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the funeral of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

Upon Mandela's release, the singer played a unique role in welcoming him to the States by performing at a freedom rally in his honor in Detroit. Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and Stevie Wonder were also in attendance for the historic night. During the celebration, Franklin called the anti-apartheid leader on stage, where he spoke about listening to and appreciating "the Detroit, Motown Sound" while he was in prison.


Watch her unforgettable performance of "The Impossible Dream" below.


"His spirit and his ideals, and his heart and his soul could not be imprisoned," the late singer told ABC News after his death in 2013. When asked which song she would sing as a tribute to him following his death if she had to pick, Franklin responded "'Respect,' no question about it."

Her 1990 concert wasn't the only time she payed tribute to the South African leader. She performed a moving rendition of "Make Them Hear You" on Mandela Day in 2009 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Watch her performance below.

In Febuary 2014, just two months after Mandela's death, the artist sang another tribute to him at BET Honors, this time delivering a heartfelt performance of Sam Cooke's classic "A Change is Gonna Come." You can watch her full performance from that night via BET.

There's no doubt that Franklin will be honored in the same way that she so graciously honored Mandela throughout his life. Fellow artists, fans, public figures and former presidents alike have taken to social media to share heartfelt tributes to the Queen of Soul. Barack and Michelle Obama have shared particularly heartfelt messages to the singer who performed at Obama's inauguration in 2009, read them below along with messages from Angelique Kidjo, Cynthia Erivo, Ibeyi and more.










Music

The 8 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Rema, BLK JKS, Tkay Maidza, Ayra Starr and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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Still from Djembe Monks

Listen to Djembe Monks' New House Single 'Nhliziyo Yam' Featuring Thandy Dhlana

Zimbabwean afro-house collective Djembe Monks' latest single, featuring Thandy Dhlana, is a soothing tribal house dance track (perfect for the heartbroken).

Zimbabwean drumming collective Djembe Monks have returned with a new, grounded house single "Nhliziyo Yam", with vocals from the melodic Thandy Dhlana who also co-wrote the song. This follows their resoundingly successful single "Rainmaker" that dropped in August 2020. "Nhliziyo Yam'" is a fusion of djembe drums, techno and deep house which reminds us to guard our hearts after experiencing a spate of heartbreaks.

The track carries elevating piano keys that create a spirit-sweeping effect. Staying true to their form, Djembe Monks' distinct tribal sound resonates with both dance-floor regulars and fans of alternative, yet modern African music. Thandy Dhlana's lyrics convey a heavy-laden heartsore message in which she forewarns love interests from encroaching upon her heart. All music fans, even those new to Djembe Monks' sound, will fall for the track instantly.

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Interview
Photo by Sophia Hernandez / EyeEm for Getty Images.

Emotional Abuse Is Insidious, Perhaps Even More Than Physical Abuse

As gender-based violence continues to plague the world over, it's important to also highlight the dire effects of emotional abuse, long before it manifests in the physical.

Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a challenge in many countries, and has been further exacerbated by national lockdowns imposed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Nigeria, Kenya, Tunisia, Liberia and more have all experienced horrific and highly publicised instances of GBV, and femicide, over the past few years. Tunisia even went as far as calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty following the brutal murder of a young woman. Liberia and Nigeria, even, declared a state of emergency on rape.

It's well established that GBV is a scourge in South Africa, with the femicide rate at an alarming five times the global average. The figures continue to worsen, a fact reflected in the daily lived experiences of many South African women. Unsurprisingly, physical and sexual abuse are the two forms of violence that have almost become synonymous with GBV. Other forms of abuse such as verbal, psychological — and more especially emotional abuse — are often sidelined.

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Th&o. Shares Short Film 'Ebusuku', A Story of Solitude and Nocturnal Encounters

South African 'Afrotronic musician' Th&o. has released a dazzling short film for his critically acclaimed and SAMA-nominated debut album 'Ebusuku'.