scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Beyoncé is no Aretha Franklin, says Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West introducing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a January campaign event in Iowa.TANNEN MAURY/EPA/file

Fiery former Harvard professor Cornel West is not one to mince words. You’ll recall that the scholar/civil rights activist once famously referred to then-Harvard president Larry Summers as “a legendary gangster with a high IQ.” West eventually departed Harvard for Princeton, but he’s still speaking his mind, sometimes on political matters — he’s endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for president over Hillary Clinton — and sometimes on less pressing issues. For example, during a speech at Smith College the other night, West seemed to diss Beyoncé, saying the “superficial spectacle” that is pop culture these days has more to do with money than talent. Beyoncé can move, he said, but Aretha Franklin needed only a microphone to thrill an audience. He’s not wrong.

Names can be reached at Follow Mark Shanahan on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.