Last year, soul legend Aretha Franklin passed away in August at the age of 76. This year, just eight months later, she has been posthumously honored with a Pulitzer Prize. It was announced that she had received a Special Citation for her “indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”
Only 44 Special Citations have been issued by the Pulitzer Prize jury since 1918, recipients of which have included Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Hank Williams, and John Coltrane. The Pulitzer Prize jury can award Special Citations and Awards when they feel it’s necessary — such the awards given to Coltrane, Ellington, George Gershwin, and Thelonious Monk, which were in response to criticism of the jury for failure to previously cite them for other works or contributions to art. The most recent Citation before Franklin’s went to Williams in 2010 for his “pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.”
Franklin was honored with numerous tributes after she passed away with performances from R&B singers like Alicia Keys and SZA, pop stars like Ariana Grande, and with a live funeral broadcast that included even more performances from collaborators and friends. She was also honored at the 2018 Emmy Awards.