I voted for scouse princess Rebecca Ferguson in the X factor final. She's a self-effacing girl who doesn't realise just what a beautiful soul voice she possesses. It's clear Rebecca grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Without Aretha there would be no Rebecca. It has just been confirmed that Aretha is suffering from pancreatic cancer and has had surgery. I cannot express in words the joy her voice has given me over the years. She once said: "Soul to me is a feeling, a lot of depth and being able to bring to the surface that which is happening inside, to make the picture clear. The song doesn't matter....it's just the emotion, the way it affects other people"
So as we sit down to watch the X Factor final, let's remember that for all its popularity, it's a derivative show that rides on the shoulders of ground breaking artists. Aretha and her contemporaries defied poverty and racism to create a new kind of sound that continues to uplift us. What joy she must have felt to sing at the inauguration of Barack Obama as her country's first African American President. Let's say a little prayer for her tonight. Or, if like me you are not religious, you can write to her c/o the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detriot, which was where her late father preached and where she began singing as a child.