The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) honored the life of Aretha Franklin by releasing a rare recording she did of a song called “Stand Up for Yourself” which was an anthem for a 2007 Divided We Fail campaign. AARP Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond spoke to Bob Edwards about the song’s origin in a “Take on Today” podcast which aired on Aug. 23, a week after the Queen of Soul’s passing on Aug. 16 after losing her battle with cancer.
“In 2007, AARP launched the Divided We Fail campaign to advocate for presidential and congressional leadership on health care and retirement security,” LeaMond told Edwards. The song Franklin recorded for the campaign’s video ultimately became an anthem for bipartisanship.
LeaMond called Franklin “the perfect messenger for a critical message” adding they were all “stunned and moved” after seeing and hearing her perform the song. She also described the late legendary Detroit native songstress as being “deeply committed” to the song’s message, which is emphasized in the chorus in the lines: “It’s time come together, our future’s not the same/Let’s make the choice to stand as one because divided we fail …”
In addition to being a highly-decorated R & B superstar with a career spanning more than six decades, Aretha Franklin was huge civil rights and women’s rights activist whose powerful songs “Respect” and (“You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman” became anthems for these important causes. As Edwards points out in his podcast intro, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. She sang at Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral and brought President Barack Obama to tears with her stunning performance of “Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.
Per a press statement, the purpose of the Divided We Fail coalition was “to end partisan gridlock in Congress” and get often opposing business and labor “to agree on a series of tenets, including affordable health care for everyone, which would eventually lead to the Affordable Care Act and a strengthened Social Security system.”
Franklin sang the song with all the conviction, passion and emotion for which she was known throughout her prolific career. You can listen to Nancy LeaMond’s entire interview with Bob Edwards about the song in the podcast below, which ends with Franklin singing a beautiful rendition of “Stand Up for Yourself."
As previously reported, a public viewing will be held for Aretha Franklin in Detroit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, followed by a private funeral service for family and friends on Aug. 31 at Greater Grace Temple on Detroit’s west side.