IN MEMORIAM: Aretha Franklin… “Queen of Soul,” 1942 – 2018

The “‘First Lady’ of Soul” (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018)

"Classy Lady" - Inauguration Day 2009

“Classy Lady” – Inauguration Day  2009

“Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine… Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”   (Former President Barack Hussein Obama and Former First Lady Michelle Obama)






But, most of all, thank you for uniquely making all of us a part of them…

Especially, during the dark days of the Civil Rights Movement!  You made our horizons forever brighter!


With Respect! ♥

William “Duke” Smither


“Sassy” Lady:  SHO’NUFF ROYALTY! 



SOLE…”Queen of Soul”






About William "Duke" Smither (a.k.a., "Backstreet D'jeli")

William "Duke" Smither, author of “BACKROADS TO 'BETHLEHEM': Odysseys of the Maroon Warrior, in the Shadows of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” is a Frankfort Kentucky native; Richmond Virginia resident. Retired Public Utility Sr. Investigator and nuclear site worker, Married w/ 3 children and 6 grandchildren; U.S. Navy Viet Nam Era & Cuban Missile Crisis Veteran; Member of "Cuban Blockade Survivors" & The American Legion; B.S. Degree (Business Mgmt) w/ independent studies in Ancient African History and African-American History. Post-graduate studies in Criminal Justice Administration. Former Sports & Feature writer for the weekly Richmond Afro-American Newspaper, during Freshman year of college. Retirement activities include: Freelance writer, playwright, actor and director of faith-based community theater productions; founder of "Backstreet's Blog" ("Talking Drum Dialogues") at and former contributing writer for "BlackPast.Org," the international, on-line reference center for African American History. His debut novel, “BACKROADS TO 'BETHLEHEM': Odysseys of the Maroon Warrior…,” is the first installment of a possible historical-fiction trilogy. A second installment ["Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue...."] is pending completion.