The Secret History Of Aretha Franklin's "Respect"

Editor's Note: Earlier today, Aretha Franklin passed away in her home at the age of 76. In honour of her passing, we are sharing the empowering story behind her greatest hit.
When you think of Aretha Franklin, you think of her belting out the word "respect" letter by letter. Franklin's quintessential song is sung from the perspective of a woman who feels confident and self-assured in what she has to offer her partner. It's bold. It's strong. It's the anthem we should all sing when we need to feel a boost of confidence.
But "Respect" wasn't always the feminist song we now recognise it to be. In fact, the song wasn't initially Franklin's. "Respect" was written by R & B singer Otis Redding. When the same lyrics in "Respect" are sung from a man's perspective, trust us — the song takes on a whole new meaning.
Fifty years ago today, "Respect" topped the Billboard charts, and emblazoned itself onto the public consciousness. In honour of this anniversary, here's the story of how Aretha Franklin turned "Respect" into one of the most influential songs of all time.

More from Music

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that color what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most most vibrant cultural and culinary centers—in 60 seconds, of course.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Millennial survivor-woman Lucie Fink dives headfirst into social experiments, 5 days at a time.