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Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, has passed away at 76. She had deep ties to the city of Detroit and we look back on how she impacted car culture.

"Franklin, the daughter of a preacher, used her roots in gospel and later soul to become a musical genius and help shape American pop music for generations, while becoming an influential force in Detroit and its signature industry."
- Anisa Jibrell - Autonews.com

Anisa Jibrell of Automotive News caught up with Bill Ludwig, former CEO of ad agency Campbell Ewald, to discuss some memories. Ludwig had worked with Franklin on the Chevrolet "Heartbeat of America" ad campaign in 1988.

"We thought we were going to get Aretha Franklin the singer. We didn't realize we were going to get Aretha Franklin the arranger and producer and director."
- Bill Ludwig as interviewed by Anisa Jibrel of Automotive News

As you might expect, the advertisement heavily features Franklin's extraordinary singing voice. Franklin starts the ad on a powerful note, asking viewers to "Listen to the heartbeat of America" through a drive-in movie screen.

"She didn't just perform vocals -- she was orchestra leader for the entire band, she produced the track over the engineer's shoulder. She did everything. Listen to her performance. It was amazing."
- Bill Ludwig as interviewed by Anisa Jibrel of Automotive News

Jibrell of Automotive News continues on to highlight one of Franklin's Grammy winning hits, "Freeway of Love," which won Aretha a Grammy for "Best R&B Vocal Performance - Female." It was her 12th in a line of 18 total wins. The song highlights Detroit's car culture, and the video features scenes shot at automotive-related locations around the city. Aretha was vocally hopeful about the future of the Motor City saying in 2013 "Detroit's best and most glorious days are still ahead."

Aretha Franklin
1942 — 2018

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