This article uses Joseph Roach’s concept of performance genealogy, the constitutive nature of memory and surrogation that takes place at the site of performance, to examine the passing of the peace that took place at Aretha Franklin’s funeral, at which singers Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson performed. Barrino and Hudson’s voices, movement, and physical comportment echo the Baptist and Holiness-Pentecostal, or Sanctified, environments that Franklin first encountered as a child and that she continued to reflect throughout her life. But to hear these resonances, it is necessary to differentiate them from Afro-Protestant settings that are often collapsed into monolithic representations of a singular “Black church.”

I specify how scholars hear Black women’s voices by showing that Barrino’s and Hudson’s particularities emanate certain characteristics of Franklin, enough to summon memories but not to mimic. Learning to hear individual Black women’s voices within a performance genealogy demands perceiving the different genres of spiritual theater that require different techniques of voice and presence. Seeing the distinctions among her inheritors allows scholars, audiences, and critics alike to perceive the theatrical education in Black sonic creation and makes possible representing Aretha Franklin’s artistic and interpretive brilliance. Ultimately, I argue that in order to respect Aretha Franklin, we must heed her assertion that there is in fact only one Aretha Franklin who is the sum of several social and spiritual worlds that inspired her artistic interpretations and that those in her lineage are not homogenous representations but share in her multitudes.

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