Rhetorical Analysis of the article “Aretha Franklin Is America” by: Kevin Powell
August 16th, 2018, a day that will go down in history; the day we lost one of the most influential artists of all time. This is the day that Aretha Franklin passed away. Many people know her for her song “Respect” but not many know how important she was as a figure for women and African Americans across the country.
As a ground breaker for the music industry Aretha effected Millions. Kevin Powell informs readers about these things which weren’t common knowledge about Aretha in his article “Aretha Franklin Is America”. Powell’s article on Aretha Franklin isn’t an obituary as much as it is a celebration. Powell’s overall article doesn’t quite pull at the heart strings but does connect to the emotions of the reader to provide an effective celebration of a great artist with the usage of ethos pathos and logos, while Making a claim on her effects on the world
The Article Begins with Powell’s comparison of Aretha Franklin to his own mother. Even though this act would usually come off as an annoying way to make something about himself. However, in this case his mother doesn’t only mean his own mother but all the black women in the world.
Following this Powell speaks about Aretha’s Legendary voice, how it was a tool to fight oppression and how Franklin had an empowering nature but wasn’t “publicly Political or socially conscious”. He concludes his Article with memories he had of Aretha Franklin, A short summary of who she was born to, how she grew up, and finally a story about her and Dr. Martin Luther king.
The article knows the audience it should be targeting and targets that audience. This audience being people like the author who loved and Respected Aretha franklin more than your average fan. Powell’s main claim is a claim of cause and effect, how she did this throughout her life, and she will do this for eternity across Multiple platforms. Powell states Because of Aretha he feels safe. …the terrible possibility of our being pulled over by the police along the route, there was Aretha promising us we could make a way out of no way. Because Aretha Franklin, in her essence, is not just a storyteller, but also a healer, one of unparalleled genius.
Her inflections, her wails, yes, are the cure-all potion for us, if only we’d listen to the words, and listen, even, to the silent spaces between her words. (Powell) Powell doesn’t this is the only outcome caused by Aretha he also believes that she has affected the movement for women’s equality “Aretha has not only taught me to hear and listen to women, but to also understand toxic manhood, and what it does to women, and to us men as well.” Finally, she has affected all the female artist that are popular today. …there would have not been a Whitney Houston, a Lauryn Hill, an Amy Winehouse, an Adele, an Ariana Grande, a Jennifer Hudson, or a Beyoncé, without the towering influence of Aretha Franklin. (Powell).
All of Powell’s implications have eternal effects. The sense of security he feels when he hears her voice will most likely stay with him for life. The effect Her song “Respect” made to help reinforce a movement that is changing the way American women are treated for, presumably, the end of time. Her voice inspired the voice of many women to follow in her footsteps and become singers with household names. Powell’s uses ethos in a strange way in the article but it seems to work well with the subject.
Powell writing an article like this should come as no surprise he has written 13 novels and is primarily invested into politics and African American culture. The publisher Vibe is not involved with African American culture and politics but is extremely involved with the music scene in general and most of their material is news relating to music so an article about so an article about a leader for equality who is also a more than accomplished artist seems right for Both “Powell” and Vibe. However, this article has a lot of informalities and in this subject matter it seems to make the writer (Powell) seem even more credible. An example of these informalities can be seen within the first few sentences when Powell refers to Aretha as “Ree Ree” this sets the tone for the rest of article and acknowledges that this isn’t an obituary this is a celebration.
Throughout the rest of the article Powell continues to use informalities Like “church was all up in her that night” and “ain’t no way”. Even though, using terms like these would ruin most other works this seems appropriate for the audience that is going to be reading it. The use of pathos is very evident throughout the entire article Powell uses it to reinforce his claim repeatedly in the article.
One of the more clear instances is in the beginning of the article The use of logos wasn’t very apparent in the article primarily because the entire article is a remembrance to someone who was great there is no real reason to use logos The article is fairly well written and is a good way to send off a legend his persuasive strategies land without feeling like he is trying too hard to make his point clear this is as much a letter of love to Aretha as it is an article about her great and astonishing career.