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A look back at Aretha Franklin’s iconic Thanksgiving 2016 national anthem performance

Bundled up in her grey and blue Detroit Lions hat and opulent overcoat on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24, 2016), Detroit native Aretha Franklin belted out a memorable soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and naturally stole the show at Detroit’s Ford Field. 

» RELATED: Aretha Franklin used her voice to ‘deliver music for social justice’

The Queen of Soul, who died Thursday at age 76, took football fans to church with a nearly 5-minute version of the anthem, and purposefully lingered on every word.

Her performance at the Lions and Minnesota Vikings game, many said, was a form of protest amid a year of heightened national racial tensions — one with the anthem at the center of contentious discussion. 

» RELATED: The powerful impact Aretha Franklin had on Jermaine Dupri’s career

Earlier that year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand during the anthem at preseason games in protest of minority oppression in America.

“As she elongated, adorned and purposefully inhabited each line, it was as though she was reclaiming the anthem for black people and other minorities who have called America home through that perilous fight,” NPR reported in 2016.

Watch the iconic performance below:

Other show-stopping performances to remember the singer by:

“My Country Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration

“Precious Lord” at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Funeral, 1968


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