Aretha Franklin’s loss felt across the Gateway City

ST. LOUIS - With a career spanning five decades and more than 100 hit songs on the Billboard charts, the loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for many.

"And the voice says, 'Hi, Denise, this is Aretha Franklin,'" says local singer Denise Thimes, recalling a phone call from the iconic soul singer.

From handwritten notes left at her childhood home in Memphis, Tennessee to a sign outside Vintage Vinyl in the Delmar Loop, the musical legacy of Aretha Franklin looms large across the Gateway City.

"'And she said, 'Denise, I heard you at the birthday party and I would like for you to sing for my 71st birthday at the Ritz Carlton in New York,'" says Thimes. "I said, 'Yes ma'am.' And she said, 'You don't have to call me ma'am. You're no spring chicken yourself.'"

In 2011, Franklin was the first performer at the newly reopened Peabody Opera House.