Sometimes meeting one of your musical idols turns out to be everything you imagined it to be.
That certainly was the case when the Eurythmics met Aretha Franklin in 1985 to record their hit female empowerment anthem “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.” As Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart looked back at their career in an interview posted online in April, the pair reflected on their experience working Franklin.
Lennox, who was inspired to write “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by the suffragette movement, wanted to bring another female voice to the anthem. “Somebody said, ‘What about Aretha Franklin?’ and we were like, ‘Yeah right,’” said Stewart. That “somebody” was none other than legendary music producer Clive Davis.
“He put a phone call into Aretha Franklin,” said Lennox. The next thing they knew, they were on a plane to Detroit to record with the Queen of Soul.
“We [were] not worthy,” said Lennox.
What they thought would be a typical recording session turned out to be far more emotional than they expected. “We go into this tiny room … it’s got a piano in it, and I thought [Franklin] was going to ask me something, and she just sang ‘The Way We Were’ and started crying,” shared Stewart.
The incredible moment left him speechless.
“Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” went on to peak at number 10 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and has been covered by the Spice Girls and Kylie Minogue. In 2011, Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, Florence Welch, Jennifer Hudson, and Yolanda Adams teamed up to perform the song for a Franklin tribute at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
Franklin died Thursday at her home in Detroit, her publicist confirmed to the Associated Press. She was 76. Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told the AP through a family statement that Franklin’s cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer.
Be sure to watch the video above and skip to the 8-minute mark to hear them reflect on their time with Franklin.