Death of a “Diva”

Morgana King died in March.  Born in the province of Catania (Sicily), she moved to New York with her family at an early age and, with a clear if wispy voice, she enjoyed a fine career as a singer of popular music with a strong jazz orientation.  Her recording of the Kern/Wodehouse standard "Bill" is a classic performance.  Those who do not have an ear for popular music may recall her as Mamma Corleone.

Since "de mortuis nihil nisi bonum," should be the rule for normal human beings (which excludes politicians, journalists, and academics), I'll say nothing about the late Aretha Franklin except this:  Her glandular shrieking drove me away from Soul Music.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

4 Responses

  1. Harry Colin says:

    Ouch! A little tough on the Queen here. I believe she refused to be described as a “feminist icon” a few years back, allowing only that if anyone was inspired by her it was a good thing. That should count for something. She dealt with some tough personal issues, apparently, without blaming society, the government or the Russians, which alone calls for some “respect” these days.

  2. Dan Hayes says:


    So Aretha drove you “away” from soul music. I find it hard to believe that you were ever “there” to begin with.

    But if so, your tastes are way more catholic than mine.

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    As a boy chasing girls, one listened to a lot, and I still nourish some affection for Bobby Bland, Ray Charles, and Jackie Wilson.

  4. Harry Colin says:

    I just read where Stevie Wonder has claimed climate change caused Aretha Franklin’s fatal illness. Since Mr. Wonder is still with us, I hope I’m not violating the ” de mortuis nihil nisi bonum” principle by observing that this is truly the blind leading the blind.