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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.










Literature
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Emile YX? Wants to 'Reconnect The String'

The father of South African hip-hop's latest book release is here to teach you about the culture.

As a father-figure in South African hip-hop, there's a lot Emile Lester Jansen, aka Emile YX?, knows. He'll also tell you, there's a lot he doesn't. But the knowledge Emile has gained, over his 3 decades in music, he's always tried to share with others. His latest project is no different. The Black Noise founder is working on a book that identifies the similarities between Bushmen expression and hip-hop, and how this knowledge can help empower anyone who has a love of the culture.

The book, which will be called Reconnect The String, comes on the back of this year's 21st anniversary of the African Hip Hop Indaba, one of the landmark hip hop events in Cape Town created by Emile, which has helped many an artist launch their career. As a teacher and a musician, he's long been involved in using hip hop to uplift communities—first through the seminal group Black Noise, founded in the late 1980s, with its rhymes rallying against Apartheid, and then through the Heal the Hood organization, a non-profit that grew out of the group's efforts to use its love of hip hop to fuel youth development initiatives in townships on the Cape Flats.

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Photo: Nick Beeba

Interview: Sango's ‘Da Rocinha 4’ Is a Polished & Grinding Take On Baile Funk

We speak with the Seattle-based DJ and producer about his new album and the music bridges connecting Brazil, the US and the world.

It's a common joke in Brazil: once three or more Brazilian people gather together, they will start a WhatsApp group. The producer and DJ Kai Wright, who goes by the alias Sango, is well aware of that. While he is giving this interview through a Zoom call, a sound notification pops from his computer. "Do you hear that?" he says, amidst laughs. "It's WhatsApp, this album was made through WhatsApp groups."

Once and for all, Sango is not Brazilian. "I am an ambassador for that sound, but I am a Black American," he says. "That sound" is baile funk, the most prominent Brazilian electronic and popular music of the past decades. Born in Michigan and based in Seattle, Sango became a beacon for a new strain of baile funk around 2012, when he released the album Da Rocinha—a suite that he revisits in his new release, Da Rocinha 4.

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Image supplied by Candice Chirwa.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.

It's 2020, and naturally, tremendous advancements have been made across various spheres of society. From the prospect of self-driving cars and drones delivering medicines to rural areas to comparatively progressive politics and historic "firsts" for many disenfranchised groups, we've certainly come a long way. However, in the midst of all that progress, there is still one issue which continues to lag behind considerably and consistently, particularly in less developed countries: menstruation.

Candice Chirwa is a young Black woman on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narratives and taboos that still shroud the issue of menstruation. The 24-year-old South African activist, who is endearingly known as the "Minister of Menstruation" on social media, wants young girls and women to not only accept but embrace their bodies fully in a society that insists on speaking in hushed tones about a perfectly normal biological process. Both Chirwa's research and advocacy work with the UN and her award-winning NGO, QRATE, has focused on dispelling common myths about menstruating, removing the shame and stigma around it and giving menstruators the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their world through impactful workshops.

And when Chirwa isn't collaborating with Lil-Lets, one of the biggest sanitary product brands on the continent, or co-authoring a bad-ass book titled Perils of Patriarchy, she's dominating the TEDx stage and making sure that her audience, no matter how diverse or varied, leaves the room feeling comfortable and courageous enough to boldly shout the word "vagina".

We caught up with Chirwa to discuss what initially compelled her to become a "period-positive" activist, her continued advocacy work with QRATE and what kind of world she imagines for menstruators.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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The Nigerian Army Has Denied Opening of Deadly Fire on #EndSARS Protesters

Despite considerable footage depicting #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate having been shot at by security forces, the Nigerian military has denied that they were responsible.