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By Heather-Elizabeth Brown
Queen Aretha Franklin.
Her voice soars and floats, high above this world, transporting us to a place of ethereal oneness with God, and with our own sacred selves. Lifting us up onto the wings of Eagles.
Baptized in the deep waters of Blues and Gospel, she was a phoenix rising, given beauty for ashes, and with that, a powerful purpose. She breathed life into her music, and while watching her, we saw the spirit of an overcomer, a champion, a conqueror move through this world.
She must have grown tired along the journey to 18 Grammy awards, a historic appointment into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and global admiration.
She must have grown tired, along the way, as she sang for Presidents and Royalty, while raising four black boys to become men.
She must have grown tired, as she solidified her place in history and our collective hearts.
But she was never weary in her well-doing. She pressed forward, toward the mark of her higher calling. She still donated to causes that reflected her life experiences, and the experiences of the community that raised her and loved her fiercely.
She still did the work of supporting, and uplifting, and communing, and connecting.
She still used her voice to be an outspoken advocate for many.
Most importantly, she spoke up for herself. Many others could not.
A proud, beautiful, black woman with a voice that could only be a gift from God, she walked through the fire, and was not consumed. She moved through life with a type of grace rarely seen and had the ability to meet monumental challenges while still looking onward and upward and while transforming, commanding respect, and inspiring love.
Her talent was undeniable. But she was much more than an international icon.
Aretha Franklin was every little black girl who has a dream to be greater than her circumstances, and a desire to leave a mark in this world that says “I was here. I cannot be erased.” Because she stepped out, so many more can and have ventured out of the shadows and into the marvelous light.
She is proof that if God is for us, nothing in this world can stand against us.
She is proof that God’s love pushes us forward into our destiny and protects our purpose.
She is the embodiment of triumph. She is the dream her ancestors dreamt.
She is all of us. She is every mother, every little girl with a dream, every black woman with hope and faith. She is a standard bearer, and through her story, a bondage breaker.
She is all of us.
Queen Aretha, rest in perfect peace. You completed your race and you fought for your faith and your legacy. And we will always love and honor you for reminding us that each of us is the best among us, and that with God, all things are truly possible.
Minister Heather-Elizabeth Brown is a dynamic and charismatic Christian evangelist, radio and tv host, internet vlogger, womanist, preacher, teacher, daughter, sister, God-mother, Millennial, and citizen of the world. As the Founder of Pretty GraceFull Ministries, she has dedicated her life to speaking the truth of God’s love to His people, helping guide and direct young women (and men) through the difficult life challenges that often impact their spiritual journeys.
With a Bachelor’s degree focusing on Women’s Studies and Communications and a Master’s degree focusing on Philosophy and Beauty Culture, as well as a Ministerial Ordination, Heather-Elizabeth is uniquely equipped to discuss the intricacies of being saved in today’s society, as well as challenge damaging practices and teachings that still exist in today’s church culture. She believes in empowering women spiritually and naturally, and doing so with style and grace.
Minister Heather-Elizabeth is passionate and resolute about her calling in the Five-Fold Ministry, and takes very seriously her God-Given purpose — to speak truth to power, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, facilitate healing and deliverance, and help women reimagine themselves as central and essential participants of the Christian Faith.
Currently, Heather-Elizabeth serves as the co-leader for the Evangelism Ministry at her church, Citadel of Praise, in Detroit, Michigan, under the leadership of Pastor Dr. Spencer T. Ellis and First Lady Tracey D. Ellis. She also serves as a member of the Praise & Worship Team, the Prison Ministry, and the Bereavement Ministry, as well as many other auxiliary ministries.
Additionally, Heather-Elizabeth recently partnered with The Exodus Foundation, a transitional shelter for victims of sex-trafficking in Michigan, as a transformational mentor and advocate. She is committed to doing the work, in her community, to make lasting and effective changes that will enable women to live fuller, more joyful lives.
Minister Heather-Elizabeth loves the color pink, loves her dog, believes in unicorns, and enjoys collecting books, elephants, and unique pearl jewelry. Find her ministry @PrettyGraceFull on all social media, and at www.PrettyGraceFull.com