Watch Reba McEntire Perform Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ at the 1988 CMA Awards
Aretha Franklin had a major influence on artists from every genre of music, country included. Reba McEntire channeled the Queen of Soul in a performance of Franklin's iconic hit "Respect" during a then-controversial performance at the 1988 CMA Awards.
"Her style has been influenced by such great people as Patsy Cline and even Merle Haggard, but when it comes to the soul part of the singing, she says her main influence has been Aretha Franklin — you're going to see what I mean right now," at-the-time host Dolly Parton reiterated ahead of McEntire's appearance.
Enter the fiery McEntire, dressed in leather pants and green sequins to belt the woman anthem "Respect" in a three-minute performance that stunned viewers of the telecast. She had released a studio version of the cover on her Reba album earlier that year, and while the project was a chart success, McEntire was chastised by critics. The steel guitars and fiddle arrangements of previous albums were gone, replaced by a more produced and polished Bakersfield sound. The release also included a recreation of "Sunday Kind of Love," made famous by Ella Fitzgerald.
The CMA Awards appearance was McEntire's way of brushing it off, and it was memorable — so much so that she resurfaced it in paying tribute to Franklin, who died on Thursday (Aug. 16) at the age of 76.
"I’ve had so many influences in my life, and one of them is the Queen of Soul," McEntire writes on Twitter. "Rest in Peace, Aretha. I’ll sing this one for you."
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Franklin lost a battle with pancreatic cancer. She became the Queen of Soul, but rose to fame after singing in her father's church. She cut her version of "Respect" — actually an Otis Redding cover — in the spring of 1967. Other hits included “Chain of Fools,” her version of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” written by Carole King, and "Think," among others.
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