i loved aretha franklin's hat. who will forget it? it was flamboyant and stylish. and as for her singing, well, i saw some nasty (and racist) comments on youtube about her "lousy" voice and how she is eating too much fried chicken. these commenters just want to be mean. they probably do not yet realize that when they are old, their voices (and bodies) will be not at all like they are now as they type nasty comments onto websites.
i was well aware her voice was straining, struggling, cracking: but i was not listening only physically, but with the heart. the rapturous emotion breaking through the refrains of "let freedom ring, let it ring," and the sight of her, head back toward the sun, arms out -- man, it gave me goosebumps. it was unalloyed joy, maybe the only expression of it coming off that ceremonial platform.