Aretha Franklin Makes History With Posthumous Pulitzer Prize

April 16, 2019  |  
Aretha Franklin

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

Aretha Franklin continues to break records even in the afterlife, as the Queen of Soul received the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation on Monday for “her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades,” according to a statement from the Pulitzer board.

The honor makes Franklin the first individual woman to earn the special recognition since it was first awarded in 1930. The announcement comes eight months after the iconic singer died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.

The Pulitzer board also honored the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, with a special citation after the journalists remained vigilant during and after the horrific shooting in their newsroom claimed the lives of five colleagues, while injuring two, on June 28, 2018.

Past recipients of the citation include Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, George Gershwin, Ray Bradbury, William Schuman, Milton Babbitt, Scott Joplin, Roger Sessions, Richard Rodgers, and Oscar Hammerstein II.

“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,” Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and the executor of her estate, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. “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.”

Franklin’s Pulitzer just adds to her many firsts–as the first woman admitted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the first woman to have 73 songs make the Billboard Top 100.

Her work and influence on the music industry diligently ascends even as she cannot be with us in the earthly form.

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