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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.










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Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

30BG vs. Wizkid FC: Dissecting the Rivalry Between Two of Nigeria's Biggest Fanbases

We talk to Wizkid and Davido's Twitter superfans about their daily exchanges of animosity—and if there can ever be peace.

Two months ago, on a cold Thursday night, dozens scurried into a small-sized capacity auditorium. There, Davido was answering questions under bright lights on stage and, minutes later, he would elicit a loud ovation from the small crowd after delivering an energetic live performance of a few songs from his soon-to-be released album, A Better Time. But he was sure oblivious to the number one trending topic that night on Twitter.

The hashtag #ABetterThrash was oozing retweets and conversations on Twitter. As the clock ticked down to midnight when Davido's A Better Time was to be released, the infamous hashtag nestled at the top of the trends. Who was behind this strange hashtag minutes before the album's public release? Wizkid FC.

To the group, it was nothing personal. They were finally shaking the hand of hatred extended by Davido's 30BG a few weeks back when the word "Thrash" appeared as a trending topic alongside Made In Lagos. "I wondered how 30BG could do this and go scot-free when your fav is about to drop too," Basit, a staunch member of Wizkid FC pondered. "When ABT dropped, I was like it's time for payback."

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Photo by Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty Images.

Listen to Wizkid's 'Made In Lagos' Interview with Apple Music

Wizkid speaks on Apple Music's 'The Zane Lowe Show' about artistic growth, being an old soul and working with Damian Marley and Ella Mai on his latest album, 'Made In Lagos'.

Wizkid has revealed deep insights in his latest interview on Apple Music's The Zane Lowe Show. The Afrobeats star reflects on the success of his latest album Made In Lagos which dropped in October of 2019. The interview with famed DJ and radio host Zane Lowe is a musical musing on collaborations, resilience, lessons learnt from the COVID-19 lockdown and artistic growth. The dialogue forecasts Wizkid's current music-making for a post-pandemic era.

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13 South African Artists To Look Out For In 2021

Here's a list of South African artists to watch in 2021. Featuring Kamo Mphela, Azana, Lucasraps, Joda Kgosi, Intaba Yase Dubai and more.

Because we keep our ears on the streets, every beginning of the year, we make our predictions of South African artists we feel will have a huge impact on the scene based on their activity from the previous year. Peep our predictions for 2020 here.

As tough as 2020 was, new artists put in the groundwork laying a solid foundation for what is likely to be a great 2021 for them. From Intaba YaseDubai, whose hook was a big contributor to the success of Big Zulu's "Imali Eningi", to popular dancer Kamo Mphela's fruitful forays into being a recording artist, new wave lyricist Lucasraps who's raking in thousands of plays on SoundCloud for his new age raps, we bring you 13 South African artists who are likely to make a big impact on the SA music scene this year.

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Hymphatic Thabs Proves His Pedigree on SOTRA Cyphers Appearance

Hymphatic Thabs' verse on SOTRA Cyphers proves the veteran South African emcee is still as sharp as he was 20 years ago when he released his debut album.