The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in conjunction with Case Western Reserve University, honored Aretha Franklin’s lifetime of contributions to music with a unique Bennett recognition award. The achievement award was presented to Franklin as part of the 16th Annual Music Masters Series. Each year, the American Music Masters recognition awards honor individuals who have played a key role in the evolution of popular music, and whose stories, accomplishments, and contributions merit wider recognition.
The unique recognition trophy "Harmonize", which depicts a stylized musical note, was used for these special recognition awards. This distinctive sculpture awards design was created by renowned Bennett Awards artist and sculptor Tom Bennett.
This year’s awards ceremony was held November 5, 2011, at Cleveland’s Palace Theatre in PlayhouseSquare. The three-hour achievement awards ceremony and gala concert featured performances by Lauryn Hill, Chacka Khan, Dennis Edwards of The Temptations, and an encore performance by Aretha Franklin herself.
Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-'60s hits with Atlantic Records--"Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Chain of Fools," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others--earned her the title "Lady Soul," which she has worn uncontested ever since.
This is the firth straight year that Bennett Awards has produced recognition trophies for this event. Past recipients of unique Bennett achievement awards used for the American Music Masters Award include Janis Joplin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Les Paul, Fats Domino, and Dave Bartholomew.