She may have pulled out of some major gigs in recent weeks, but Aretha Franklin showed up at Yale University on Monday to receive an honorary doctorate of music during the school’s commencement ceremony.
Franklin accepted the honor from Yale President Richard C. Levin following a brief musical tribute and prolonged cheering from an audience that included Denzel Washington and Steven Spielberg.
We know royalty when we see it, and you are, without question, the Queen of Soul. A natural woman, you have been signing your whole life, learning the grace of gospel from family and faith community, tuning it with your own sometimes painful, often joyful, experiences, and creating a signature style that transcends any one musical genre,” Levin said in his introduction of the singer.
“You have sung the nation’s hopes at presidential inaugurations and shared your gifts with generations of music lovers. From gospel to pop, from blues to hip-hop, your voice expresses our feelings,” Levin noted.
Before leaving campus, Franklin used her own pink camcorder to shoot footage of all the professional photographers and fans who were taking photos of her.
Washington was accompanied by his wife, Pauletta Pearson, and other family members, who came to watch the couple’s daughter, Katia Elizabeth Washington, graduate. The actor did not speak to the press. “I’m here for my daughter,” he said when approached
Spielberg was spotted on the campus with his wife, Kate Capshaw, as they videotaped their graduate, son Theo Spielberg.