At an announcement ceremony at Columbia University, Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy specifically highlighted Franklin “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”
The Pulitzer Prize is yet another feather in Franklin’s cap. In 2005, President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She also won 18 Grammys.
Rolling Stone said Franklin had “America’s greatest voice” following her death in August 2018, and wrote about her ability to reach people.
“This woman ain’t entertainment,” Luther Vandross, Franklin’s friend and producer, said in 1982, according to the publication. “She’s done opened the books to my life and told everybody. Like Roberta Flack used to say in ‘Killing Me Softly,’ ‘I thought he found my letters and read them all out loud.’ She was the spokesperson for a lot of people and how they feel.”
The Pulitzer Board awarded this year’s prize in music to Ellen Reid for her “bold new operatic work” called “p r i s m.”
Last year, the board awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music to Kendrick Lamar for his album “Damn”; the rapper was the first nonclassical or jazz artist to win the award.