January 31st, 2009
03:13 PM ET
4 years ago

People: Smithsonian requests Aretha's hat

Aretha Franklin performed at Obama's inauguration.

Aretha Franklin performed at Obama's inauguration.

Michelle Obama’s now-famous Jason Wu gown isn’t the only piece of Inaugural fashion that is headed for the Smithsonian. The museum is also requesting the now-iconic hat that Aretha Franklin wore while singing at the swearing-in.

Aretha, however, is still undecided about parting with her Luke Song-designed hat. “I am considering it. It would be hard to part with my chapeau since it was such a crowning moment in history,” says the Queen of Soul.

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Filed under: Inauguration • Popular Posts
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Linda in Georgia

    That hat deserves the utmost Smithsonian R -E -S -P – E – C – T!!! It has mine. Love the hat & bow that sets A's face off like an Inaugural package:)

    January 31, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. In African Anerican churches now

    This hat was the big deal on the sunday following the obama inauguration. The church was packed with every woman, lady and even girl wearing an Arita's hat.

    January 31, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. David

    I like the hat. Really, I think it is beautiful, and it contrasts magnificently. Her earrings, however, are disastrous.

    January 31, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Ruth in Washington State

    Whether you like the hat or not, it should be in the Smithsonian as a mark of R E S P E C T for Aretha, her contribution to music, and the truly historic occasion for which she wore it. It will make a great addiiton to the Presidential memorabilia display. She should hold on to it for awhile and bask in the glow, and then send it on to the museum.

    January 31, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. Mountain Jeep

    Go a"head", it's gonna last longer than any of us...

    January 31, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. k. johnson

    I have a problem with anyone asking for something from someone (like a hat) when the person/institution has no right to ask for said object.

    Aretha, keep the hat, leave it and anything else you wish to leave to whoever you want to leave it to when you leave us.

    January 31, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Fan of your Hat

    Please keep it for a while longer? Do you know that there is even a facebook fan page for your hat? We love it and the Smithsonian should have it SOME DAY- but for today, it is in our collective memories as a very regal hat, worn on a cold, wonderful day, when you sang a warm song that inspired and thrilled us.

    Love you Aretha!

    January 31, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. S. Boatman Warrensburg, Mo.

    I love the wayt you sing, but that hat makes your head look like its been gift wrapped!

    January 31, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. babs

    she's got so much stuff on, you can barely find Aretha Franklin under that big hat and big coat...

    January 31, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. Mamie Mitchell

    Faaaaaaabulous Hat!!!! And her song in front of that crowd was unreal.
    Aretha is God.

    January 31, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Concerned Citizen


    How do you make a hanky, dance????

    Put a little 'boogie' in it!!!!!!

    Aretha can get away with ANYTHING,,,,,,,, this hat proves it........!!!!

    January 31, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. D. Gamble

    It should be paired with that horrible looking "black widow" dress that Michelle was wearing. Jackie-O they will never be..........

    January 31, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. LGC

    That hat is HEINOUS ! She should be indicted on fashion fraud. It would be very degrading for that piece of couture crap to end up in The Smithsonian. I'm surprised she was even asked for it. It would make a great chew toy for the dog.

    January 31, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Kris in Denver

    Don't give it up yet, Aretha. Simply leave it to the Smithsonian in your will.

    January 31, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. kelly WI

    It rivals her ugly singing that day.

    January 31, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Mad Hatter

    Hey "Annoyed in AZ"

    GET A HAT!

    Jeez – don't you have other, more important things to annoy you?

    Peace, Love and Obama.

    January 31, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Kenyotta

    The Queen's hat was terrific! I have seen hats twice as big in church and way more colorful. It's part of our heritage. Black women rock their hats like that all the time. I can't wait to see it in museum.

    January 31, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |

    OK WHITE PEOPLE (AND OTHERS) LISTEN UP! The wearing of such elaborate hats is a long tradition in the so-called "black" church. (I'm a white boy and I know that. Hey, read the book CROWNS or attend the musical if you need to bone up on this.) Ms. Franklin's hat fits into that tradition and was completely appropriate for the event. Prior to January 20, I kept wondering who was going to sing at the inauguration and what they would sing. In retrospect there was no other choice for singer or song. "My Country 'Tis of Thee" echoed part of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. And that part, whether actually true or apocryphal, was not originally part of the speech. It was added when the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (who certainly had a great influence on Ms. Franklin) said "Martin, tell them about the dream." So the singer, the song and the hat were perfect. For better or worse that hat is now forever iconically linked to Barrack Obama's first inauguration. I urge Ms. Franklin to part with the hat so those who are born long after all of us are dead will see that hat and remember that this was the day that America took a big step forward in realizing the dream.

    January 31, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. EDDIE

    Aretha Franklin is a national treasure in itself and having to be asked by the Smithsonian if they could keep that hat for historical posterity adds to Aretha's contribution even more. It is totally up to her though, but if I were her, I'd give it to the Smiths....

    Note to the Smithsonian: Why stop with the hat? How about that thick coat she wore with that hat of her's? Ask her for that too!!!!

    January 31, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. john w

    rummage sell item....$1.99

    January 31, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    I thought she had flipped her purse over and put it on her head to stop the wind from blowing her hair. I really thought it was her purse bag.

    January 31, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. Just Me

    Give it up for the country? God some of you people have way too much time on your hands! It's her hat, it's her choice! I don't blame her for not wanting to give it up.

    January 31, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. eurydices

    The hat was beautiful,now you know why little girls like bows in their hair,give up the hat Queen Aretha you have made your mark in history.

    January 31, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Cheryl Tx

    @Lisa January 31st, 2009 3:36 pm ET
    I love you Aretha…but that is one seriously unattractive hat!
    @Kathy in Florida January 31st, 2009 2:12 pm ET
    This hat should be sent straight to the dumpster. It is beyond UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Lisa and Kathy ***Somtimes it is best to Shut the H_LL Up!!!

    January 31, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Alicia

    A true Natural Woman and DIVA personified! I LOVE Aretha, and LOVED her rendition during the ceremony.

    I truly RESPECT the Queen of Soul!

    **I am so glad Beyonce' was not singing during the Inaugaration ceremony. Nice to see a successful young lady get so far. Beyonce' has overly saturated the market.....yawn!

    January 31, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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