If you’ve ever heard Aretha Franklin’s voice (and there’s an excellent chance you have), you know it’s hard not to be impressed. There’s a reason they call her the “Queen of Soul.” But did you know that in 1985, the state of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources also declared Aretha Franklin’s voice a natural resource?
How is Aretha Franklin’s voice a natural resource?
Not only was Franklin a Michigan native, but she eschewed Hollywood and New York to move back to her hometown of Detroit. As a result, lawmakers in Michigan’s state House and Senate saw fit to recognize her connections to the city (and state) she loved. In 1968, Michigan declared February 16th Aretha Franklin Day.
Franklin’s career was already two decades old when her home state started finding even more permanent ways to recognize her achievements. For example, they specifically drew attention to her vocals by declaring them a natural resource.
At her funeral in 2018, Michigan then-governor Rick Snyder spoke about the impact she had on the state of Michigan. He noted her designation as a natural resource, saying: “That’s something special, folks. That strikes out right in the heart…She had a God-given voice, a talent, a musical skill that people only dream of. But she did more than that. She took not just the triumphs of her life, she took the challenges and the tragedies and brought a special humanity to her words, to her voice, to her music, that most musicians would only dream to have.”
More tributes to Franklin
You can find homages to Franklin throughout her native Detroit specifically. For example, in 2017, the city council named a street Aretha Franklin Way. At age 75, she vowed to dance down the street every time she used it.