Aretha Franklin Receives Harvard Honorary Degree

The Queen of Soul also performs the National Anthem for graduates

aretha franklin performs harvard
Paul Marotta/Getty Images
Aretha Franklin sings the National Anthem at the opening of the 363rd Commencement Ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Aretha Franklin has racked up more than a few superlatives in her incredible career: The Queen of Soul, Rolling Stone's Greatest Singer of All Time, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Kennedy Center honoree. Now add "Harvard graduate" to that list. Franklin received an honorary degree during the prestigious Ivy League university's commencement yesterday, Billboard reports. Franklin joined former President George H.W. Bush and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as recipients.

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The last time Aretha performed a patriotic song at a high-profile event – "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's first inauguration in January 2009 – Franklin spawned a popular meme thanks to her flamboyant hat. Aretha sported some similarly unlikely headwear when she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Harvard ceremony: a traditional black graduation cap with a crimson gown. Franklin herself played the piano for the soulful rendition of our National Anthem, which was gleefully filmed by a bunch of star struck smart people. Watch Aretha's performance below:

Earlier this year, Franklin told Rolling Stone about linking up with Andre 3000 for a future project. "Andre 3000 is going to be aiding in producing some of the tracks," said Franklin. "I love everything he does. He’s got a groove that I really, really like." The singer also revealed that she may cover Beyonce for a future track for her next album. "I like 'Bootylicious,' 'Survivor' – my little granddaughter loves 'Survivor,'" she said. "She’s a worker," Franklin says of Beyonce. "And I can appreciate that. I’m a worker."