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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.










Photo by Samuel Martins via Afro Nation

Wizkid, Burna Boy, Megan Thee Stallion & More To Perform at Afro Nation 2022

The world's biggest afrobeats festival adds impressive international names to the roster.

Summer 2022 is gearing up to be the sweetest we've had in years. Adding to the excitement is Afro Nation's 2022 festival to be hosted in European beach haven, Portugal, this July.

As the second phase of lineup announcements reached fans this week, the musical festival seems to be covering all bases and genres. Big names including American R&B singer Chris Brown, rapper Megan Thee Stallion, Nigerian faves Wizkid, Burna Boy, and "Love Nwantiti" crooner CKay, and so many more promise to make this festival one worth spending three days on the beach for. UK breakthrough artists Pa Salieu, ShaSimone and masked phenomenon Midas The Jagaban have recently been announced as performers too.

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Photo: Spark Creative

Meet the Ghanaian-British Designer Behind Janet Jackson's Latest Cover Look

For her most recent cover shoot, Janet Jackson donned a headpiece co-created by Ghanaian-British designer Chrissa Amuah, who tells us more about how she finds inspiration in her parents' homeland.

After rocking a LaviebyCK design by Cameroon's Claude Kameni in her 2018 'Made for Now' music video, Janet Jackson has turned to another talented African creative for her latest look. On the February 2022 cover of Allure Magazine, in which Jackson talks about executive-producing her documentary, Janet, the multiple Grammy-winning artist is pictured wearing an Ògún headpiece, co-designed by Ghanaian-British textile and furniture designer, Chrissa Amuah.

"I’ve always been a fan and respected her craft and work ethic,” Amuah told OkayAfrica. “For Ms Jackson to wear the Ògún in promotion of her new documentary sends a powerful message of enduring brilliance, integrity, and walking in the strength of our true voices.”

Of Ghanaian, Togolese, and Beninese heritage, Amuah was born to Ghanaian parents in London and draws inspiration from the Ghanaian Adinkra symbol in her work as the founder and Creative Director of AMWA Designs, a luxury homeware and interiors brand established in 2014. Making her international debut at the Milan Design Week, she gained worldwide acclaim in 2015, and a few years later, was named “Consumer and Luxury Rising Star” at the 2017 Black British Business Awards.

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BRYAN THE MENSAH On His Debut Album ‘Road to Hastafari’

The Ghanaian rapper narrates the journey of his career in a candid debut laced with personal stories.

BRYAN THE MENSAH is one of the new school acts from Ghana who’s been doing it for a minute. Ever since the arrival of his debut EP in 2017, he was quickly recognized as one of the rising acts in the Ghanaian music scene with a fresh and unique sound—a contemporary rap act but one who fluidly moves between rap, pop, alternative, and fusions of the three, and does so effortlessly.

From then until now he's released four projects in total, all EPs including his critically acclaimed debut Friends with the Sun. His most recentwas 2020’s Not Going Outside, which saw the rapper employ the coronavirus pandemic as its underlying theme. Now, the rapper has decided to level up with the release of his debut album Road to Hastafari.

Bryan actually announced as early as five years ago in that he would be releasing his debut project in 2021, and just before the year came to an end he made good on that promise with an earnest, spirited offering.

As far as full-length projects from contemporary Ghanaian artists come, Road to Hastafari is in a class of its own. Twelve tracks long, with features by M.anifest, buzzing Ghanaian newcomer Black Sherif, Nigerian rappers A-Q and PsychoYP, and rising singer Titi Owusu, RTH is not the conventional African sound. Here, the self-assured rapper with a precise, melodic flow makes it clear that he’s not like anyone else, and he’s not trying to be.

But the album isn’t built on just sonics alone. Road to Hastafari is an album full of personal stories from the rapper that speaks to his journey so far, from family to his love life, and even tales of disrespect that he’s encountered in the music industry. And who better to tell those stories than the rapper himself? We invited BRYAN THE MENSAH to speak to us about his debut album, and the stories behind its creation.

Check out our conversation below.

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These African Films Scored 2022 NAACP Image Award Nods

A host of African talent has made the cut for the list of this year's NAACP Image Awards, which will take place as a socially-distanced affair next month.