When I was a child, my mother would play “Proud Mary” on repeat as I danced around our living room, singing along into my toy microphone at the top of my lungs. The power in her voice and in that song made me a lifelong fan of Tina Turner.

Tina Turner spoke a universal language. Through her music, she told stories of love and loss, of triumph and pain, and she told them in ways that people around the globe could understand and relate to. Her songs — and the strength with which she sang them — have moved millions.

So many of those songs were rooted in freedom, individuality, and self-determination — at a time when such concepts felt off-limits to Black female artists. But Tina Turner did more than just give voice to those values — she lived them. Onstage and off, she was unapologetically Tina. With her very presence representing an affront to the status quo, she stood tall and proud, demonstrating to the world that rock stars could look like her, too, and reminding us all the power of living as our true, authentic selves.

The true, authentic Tina Turner was a global icon who left an indelible mark on American music and culture. Among countless awards and honors, the “Queen of Rock & Roll” was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame not just once, but twice. With Grammy wins in the pop, rock, and R&B categories, Tina Turner made an impact on a range of genres wider than many artists before her ever had. She helped evolve the music of our nation.

Tina Turner sacrificed a great deal to have the success that she did. Throughout her life, she endured racism, sexism, and domestic violence — experiences that nobody should ever have to face. But she met those challenges head-on with courage and conviction. As she later put it, experiences that “could have shattered me, instead became fuel for my journey, propelling me upward.” Those experiences became fuel for the journeys of so many others — listeners whom she inspired with her songs of struggle and overcoming. And today, her life remains a testament to all those who believe in what can be, unburdened by what has been.


Growing up, my mother often told me, “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things. Make sure you are not the last.” Throughout her life, Tina Turner was in fact the first to do many things. She was the first woman and the first Black person to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone, among other “firsts.” But through her lifelong work of mentoring and developing younger artists, she widened the path and made sure that she would not be the last.

Through her music and her style, Tina Turner changed the ways in which we express ourselves and enjoy ourselves. The joy she shared with us will live on in her music for as long as we continue to sing and dance along to it.