Social media has been flooded with heartwarming tributes in memory of the ultimate Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who passed away on Thursday at age 76 following her battle with pancreatic cancer.
Among the tributes paid was one by US President Donald Trump, who not only tweeted his condolences, but also praised the singer ahead of a cabinet meeting and used a phrase that hasn’t gone down too well.
“I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well. She worked for me on numerous occasions,” Trump said to the press Thursday.
“She was terrific — Aretha Franklin — on her passing. She brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come. She was given a great gift from God — her voice, and she used it well. People loved Aretha. She was a special woman. So just want to pass on my warmest best wishes and sympathies to her family.”
For the most part, it was a nice gesture, however there was one line that many people just couldn’t overlook, and that was when Trump said, “she worked for me on numerous occasions”.
While he may have been referencing the few times Aretha performed at his casinos or during the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in 1997, the detail of this ‘work’ was left rather unclear.
Many fans were left stumped by the statement and did not appreciate the fact that he even mentioned such a thing during this time of mourning.
Earlier today you said Aretha Franklin "worked" for you. She may have performed at one of your hotels or casinos, Mr. Trump, but do not be confused; The Queen of Soul NEVER EVER WORKED for you. But you, Mr. Trump, you work for us and, sooner or later, you will be fired.
— Sharon Gelman – Resist! (@sharongelman) August 16, 2018
It would be no surprise if Aretha Franklin performed at a Trump event years ago. But for him to say she "worked for" him, phrased that way, carries an abundantly clear connotation. It speaks to how he saw her and is devoid of the respect she deserves for her impact.
— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) August 16, 2018
Dear @realDonaldTrump: When a queen passes away, you pay your R-E-S-P-E-C-T! You don’t try to denigrate her legacy by saying, “she worked for me on numerous occasions." This queen worked for nobody but her loving fans. #ArethaFranklin #BossLady #QueenOfSoul #RestInPower #TeamDl
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) August 16, 2018
No, seriously, when did Aretha Franklin do something that could be described as "working for" Donald Trump?
— Dara Lind (@DLind) August 16, 2018
After Trump’s somewhat tone-deaf tribute, people were appreciating the heartwarming messages made by both Hilary and Bill Clinton, and by former president Barack Obama, who held a close friendship with Aretha.
OBAMAS ON ARETHA: "Graced with a glimpse of the divine."
CLINTONS ON ARETHA: "One of America's greatest national treasures."
TRUMP ON ARETHA: "She worked for me."#ArethaFranklin
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) August 16, 2018
“America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring,” Obama wrote on behalf of himself and his wife on Instagram.
“Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine,” he concluded.
Like people all around the world, Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight & listening to her music that has been such an important part of our lives the last 50 years. We hope you’ll lift her up by listening and sharing her songs that have meant the most to you.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 14, 2018
Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 16, 2018