The Story Behind That Aretha Franklin Poster At The National Portrait Gallery

A memorable and wonderful collectors item. I never saw the poster when it first came out into the world of Pop Art. I guess I was still in my Elementary School interest of sports and TV. But being the budding artist that I was during this period of history, I’m happy to be able to finally see it published for all to see.

The National Portrait Gallery is displaying a portrait of Aretha Franklin from Aug. 17-22 in honor of the great American singer, who died Aug. 16 at the age of 76.

The small portrait shows the Queen of Soul mid-song – mouth open, eyes closed. It’s beautiful, but where did it come from?

The lithographic poster dates back to 1968, a formative year for both Franklin and for the nation. In February ’68, Martin Luther King, Jr. presented Franklin with a special award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during one of her concerts in Detroit. She sang “Precious Lord” at his memorial service two months later.

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