RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When we think about legendary voices that constantly leave the world in awe, the name Aretha Franklin comes to mind for gospel radio host Sheilah Belle.
"When she sings, there's something about it, you want to be still," Belle said. "She would sing the gospel tunes. Those are the songs that would cause people to stand to their feet and say, 'sing Aretha!'"
Belle said Franklin's roots in gospel music are something the artist never let go of, and as a tribute to her, those gospel songs could be heard coming from the Praise 104.7 FM airwaves Thursday.
"Her history is so rich. To be the legend, to be the icon, that she was, to have poured into so many people who have sung-- not only to be the 'Queen of Soul', but people loved her when it came to gospel music," Belle said.
Growing up as the daughter of a preacher in Detroit, songs from heaven were a part of Franklin's make up, but songs of change and progress were also a part of who she was.
"Regardless of your color, race or nationality, people could resonate when it came to bringing people together," she said. "The song 'Respect' bringing people together."
Beyond the music, Franklin was an agent for change, the Queen of Soul's accomplishments include a dedication to equality and community.
"We're out here doing voter education and rights restoration in honor of her, on all of our civil rights," radio host Clovia Lawrence said while volunteering for a voter registration and restoration of rights event Thursday.
Lawrence spent the afternoon working with Rolling For Freedom. Franklin's voice could be hard coming from Kiss FM. Her influence in social justice, is one Lawrence took the time to reflect on, while serving her community Thursday.
"I hope she would be proud that there is a space to actually go into the community," she said. "Her influence on me is to just operate in your talent, as a radio announcer as a DJ, a party host, a narrative. But more importantly, give back to the community that serves you."
Belle said what stands out about Franklin is how there was no one else who could perform the way she did.
"When she did it, she did it in such a way that you hear other people would often try to mimic how she would sing. You can't mimic Aretha Franklin," Belle said. "That's a rich, in your soul, in your DNA how she could sing."
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