Aretha Franklin

It is the rarest singer who not only eclipses an Otis Redding performance, but simply erases it from existence. And yet, 'Respect' is an Aretha Franklin song. It has always been an Aretha Franklin song -- even for the two years between 1965 and 1967 when the only version available was Redding's.

And Franklin was always the greatest singer in the world, from the moment she opened her mouth in 1956 and first put that voice to record. That voice, that storm cloud, looming on the horizon. She was 14, already a mother of two, her voice already several lifetimes old, singing gospel standards rendered ghostly by the cheap recording and the intervening decades.