The Inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama on January 20 had the world talking — about the official oath of office, the President’s Inaugural address, the record breaking attendance, the adorable First Family, Aretha Franklin’s gospel-infused rendition of the anthem “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “the hat.”
The Smithsonian Institution has now asked Franklin if she will donate the now iconic Inaugural hat to the museum to become a part of an exhibit of President Obama’s Inauguration, joining other items scheduled for display including First Lady Michelle Obama’s Inaugural night gown.
Commenting on the Smithsonian’s request, Franklin says, “I am considering it. It would be hard to part with my chapeau since it was such a crowning moment in history. I would like to smile every time I look back at it and remember what a great moment it was in American and African-American history. Ten cheers for President Obama.”
The now-famous bow-tied, Swarovski jewel-studded, heather grey wool hat worn by the Queen of Soul seemingly took on a life of its own, becoming an overnight sensation worldwide in the media and cyberspace. Everyone from Jon Stewart on the “Daily Show” to the ladies on “The View” to Jay Leno of The Tonight Show” talked about the hat the following day, and Ellen DeGeneres wore an exaggerated version of the hat on her show. Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), the fashion-industry trade journal sometimes called “the bible of fashion,” wrote about the hat in their daily publication. On the Internet, people have created dozens of sites devoted to the hat and, using software, it has been placed on mug shots of Dick Cheney, dogs, President George Washington and the heads of Mt. Rushmore, among many others. The hat even has its own Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aretha-Franklins-Inauguration-Hat/71597018624).
With the onslaught of coverage the hat generated, newspapers from across the country began writing about it: “Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat Becomes Overnight Fashion Sensation” (Detroit Free Press), “Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat Inspires a Line of Toppers” (People Magazine), “Aretha Franklin’s Hat, Detroit-Made, Wins Global Acclaim” (Detroit Free Press), “Fans Flock to Copy Aretha Franklin’s Big Bow Inauguration Hat” (New York Daily News), “Aretha’s Hat Upholds Tradition Born in Churches of the South” (The Providence Journal) — many outlets asked readers to voice their own opinions about the hat.
Aretha Franklin performed at President Obama’s historic Inauguration during the Swearing In Ceremony in front of an international audience of billions. Franklin is now recording and releasing a commemorative version of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee