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Georgia colleges remember encounters with Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul left fond memories with several Georgia colleges and some of the people who worked there.

Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday at the age of 76, performed at the Morehouse College King Chapel in 2009 at a birthday celebration for civil rights pioneer, the Rev. Joseph Lowery. 

Henry Goodgame, Morehouse’s vice president of external affairs, recalled meeting Franklin at a 2006 United Negro College Fund tribute event in Los Angeles. Several performers sang some of Franklin’s hits. But Aretha’s performance was the highlight of the night.

“She sang her tail off that night,” Goodgame recalled.

>>MORE COVERAGE: Remembering Aretha Franklin 1942-2018

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Goodgame introduced himself and discussed his affiliation with Morehouse. Franklin, he said, was excited.

“Oh, yeah. My daddy believed in Morehouse,” she said. “My brother was a Morehouse Man.”

Franklin’s brother, Cecil, graduated from Morehouse in 1961, Goodgame said. Her brother graduated cum laude from Morehouse as valedictorian, according to the Detroit News.

What You Need To Know: Aretha Franklin

Goodgame said he was more excited to meet a woman he considered an inspiration.

“I am so sorry to see her go, but I am so happy to have been raised in her R-E-S-P-E-C-T!,” he said in a telephone interview.

Wycliffe Gordon, director of Augusta University’s jazz program, recalled first meeting Franklin when he was a student at Florida A&M University in the late 1980s. Gordon, an award-winning trombonist, met Franklin three more times. Gordon said he learned by watching her perform how to be precise, consistency and to give your best.

Gordon recalled once instance where Franklin wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t hit a particular note the way she desired. She pointed to the sky. The audience applauded, recognizing her effort and desire to be her best.

“She still gave the audience joy with performance,” Gordon said.

Gordon said he teared up Thursday upon learning of Franklin’s death.

“Artists like that transcend time,” he said.

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