Aretha Franklin Demanded to be Paid in Cash

Posted by CapWay in InfluencersSeptember 9, 2018(Last Updated November 23, 2022)3 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Aretha Franklin demanded cash payment for shows due to seeing other Black artists ripped off. 
  • The Queen of Soul kept her cash payment near her at all times. 
  • Historically, regardless of celebrity status, those in the Black community have had to deal with financial wrongdoings from banks or others in power for centuries.
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Since the passing of Aretha Franklin, also known as the Queen of Soul, stories have come out about how she only accepted her fee to perform in cash. (Oh, and no money, no performance.) Even more telling of her financial business sense and demand for R.E.S.P.E.C.T., Frankin would put the cash in her handbag and keep it near her at all times. After collecting her money, her purse would either be on her arm or within her eyesight while onstage performing.


Why Aretha Franklin Preferred Cash Payment


Demanding cash-only for shows was something legendary Aretha Franklin had practiced since the '60s after seeing other Black artists get underpaid or ripped off. In her experience, she had seen managers and record labels do Black artists wrong, and she wanted no part of it. 


Editorial credit: Joseph Sohm /


Even prior to her passing, Aretha Franklin was one of the most recognized singers and divas in the world of music. Her accolades include being the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and having multiple hit singles, including Respect, Chain of Fools, and You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman. However, even with her celebrity status, she still had to deal with shady financial practices toward those in the Black community. 


Negative Financial Experiences Span Generations


Historically, in the case of minorities–celebrity or not, many have been turned away from banks or had money stolen from them in shady deals or via power moves they had no control over. Therefore, many in the Black and other minority communities started to keep their cash hidden away in their home as a way to protect their money. 


The hard truth about the impact of negative financial experiences within the Black community can usually be heard by having a conversation with someone over the age of sixty. If possible, take the time to talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents and listen to their stories and experiences dealing with the banking system in their younger years. Their responses and stories will be a window into how negative financial experiences has span across generations and still impact those in the Black community today. 


Connection to Mistrust in Banks


In addition to Black artists being ripped off being a reason Aretha Franklin demanded cash payment, there is an even deeper connection between her financial practices and the world of those who are financially underserved or mistreated by the financial system. The connection shines a brighter light on why, in particular, minorities have historically preferred cash-in-hand and in their homes versus in a bank. 


Many people from older generations kept their money in a sock, buried in the backyard, in a dresser drawer, or a hole in the wall. An example of such an act was displayed during the classic film The Color Purple. Do you recall near the end of the movie when Mister goes to remove a large amount of cash from inside a metal box in the chicken coop? Although The Color Purple is a fictional movie, the reality of that scene is real. 


With continued discriminatory practices and wrongdoings, banks have not gained the trust of those in the minority community. From redlining to a higher percentage of rejection of loans, the negative experience and thoughts towards banks became embedded within the minority community and have had an everlasting impact. More so, the mistrust and wrongdoings by banks have led to generations of unbanked people. 


Recommended Read: Redlining’s Lasting Effects on Black Americans Today


Someone who is unbanked does not have a bank account, and instead, they rely on alternative financial services. Unfortunately, those alternative financial services are usually predatory, such as payday lenders and title-loan services. More than likely, if you meet someone who is unbanked, there is a good chance their parents or grandparents are also unbanked. This is one of the direct results of generational mistrust in banks. 


Modern Day Going Cashless


The cashless society has been expedited due to the pandemic. As a result, more "no cash accepted" policies are being implemented in retailers. Instead, retailers and service providers now require some form of a card for payment. So in today's society, to catch a Lyft, rent a hotel room, or pay your monthly subscription for Netflix, having a credit or debit card is required. 


Traditional banking has historically failed those considered financially underserved or misunderstood, but now with fintech companies like CapWay, the needed change is in the process.



Main Image credit: mark reinstein /

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