Backstage with ‘The Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin–RIP

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – August 16, 2018

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Photo: Aretha Franklin Singer/Songwriter.

Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942 to August 16, 2018) in Memphis,Tennessee was an American singer and songwriter. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel in Detroit, Michigan where the family had relocated by her 5th birthday, at the church of her father, minister C. L. Franklin’s church. In 1960, at the age of 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Think”. By the end of the 1960s decade she had gained the title “The Queen of Soul”. Franklin eventually recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history.

Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide.[1] Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame.[2] Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, in which she placed number 9; and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, in which she placed number 1.

Commercial success (1967–1979)

In November 1966, choosing not to renew her Columbia contract after six years with the company, Franklin signed to Atlantic Records.[19] In January 1967, she traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record at FAME Studios to record the song, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” in front of the musicians of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.[17] The song was later issued that February and shot up to number-one on the R&B chart, while also peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Franklin her first top ten pop single. The song’s b-side, “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”, reached the R&B top 40, peaking at number 37. In April, Atlantic issued her frenetic version of Otis Redding’s “Respect”, which shot to number-one on both the R&B and pop charts and later became her signature song and was later hailed as a civil rights and feminist anthem.

Franklin’s debut Atlantic album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, also became commercially successful, later going gold. Franklin scored two more top ten singles in 1967 including “Baby I Love You” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman”. Franklin’s rapport with producer Jerry Wexler helped in the creation of the majority of Franklin’s peak recordings with Atlantic. In 1968, she issued the top-selling albums, Lady Soul and Aretha Now, which included some of Franklin’s most popular hit singles including “Chain of Fools”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Think” and “I Say a Little Prayer”. In February 1968, Franklin earned the first two of her Grammys including the debut category for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.[20] On February 16, 1968, Franklin was honored with a day in her honor and was greeted by longtime friend Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave her the SCLC Drum Beat Award for Musicians just two months before his death.[21][22][23] In June 1968, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

Franklin’s success expanded during the early 1970s in which she recorded top ten singles such as “Spanish Harlem”, “Rock Steady” and “Day Dreaming” as well as the acclaimed albums, Spirit in the Dark, Young, Gifted & Black and her gospel album, Amazing Grace, which sold over two million copies. In 1971, Franklin became the first R&B performer to headline Fillmore West, later recording the live album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

Later years (1980–present)

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In 1980, after leaving Atlantic Records,[26] Franklin signed with Clive Davis’ Arista Records and that same year gave a command performance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of Queen Elizabeth. Franklin also made an acclaimed guest role as a waitress in the comedy musical, The Blues Brothers.

Franklin’s first Arista album, Aretha (1980), featured the No. 3 R&B hit “United Together” and her Grammy-nominated cover of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”. The follow-up, 1981’s Love All the Hurt Away, included her famed duet of the title track with George Benson, while the album also included her Grammy-winning cover of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin'”. Franklin achieved a gold record—for the first time in seven years—with the 1982 album Jump to It. The album’s title track was her first top-40 single on the pop charts in six years.[50]

In 1985, inspired by a desire to have a “younger sound” in her music, Who’s Zoomin’ Who? became her first Arista album to be certified platinum. The album sold well over a million copies thanks to the hits “Freeway of Love”, the title track, and “Another Night”.[51] The following year’s Aretha album nearly matched this success with the hit singles “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Jimmy Lee” and “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”, her international number-one duet with George Michael. During that period, Franklin provided vocals to the theme songs of the TV shows A Different World and Together.[52] In 1987, she issued her third gospel album, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, which was recorded at her late father’s New Bethel church, followed by Through the Storm in 1989. Franklin’s 1991 album, What You See is What You Sweat, flopped on the charts. She returned to the charts in 1993 with the dance song “A Deeper Love” and returned to the top 40 with the song “Willing to Forgive” in 1994.[53]

In 1998, Franklin returned to the top 40 with the Lauryn Hill-produced song “A Rose Is Still a Rose”, later issuing the album of the same name, which went gold. That same year, Franklin earned international acclaim for her performance of “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards, filling in at the last minute for Luciano Pavarotti, who had cancelled after the show had already begun.[54][55] Her final Arista album, So Damn Happy, was released in 2003 and featured the Grammy-winning song “Wonderful”. In 2004, Franklin announced that she was leaving Arista after more than 20 years with the label.[56] To complete her Arista obligations, Franklin issued the duets compilation album Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen in 2007.[57] The following year, she issued the holiday album This Christmas, Aretha, on DMI Records.[58]

Franklin performed The Star-Spangled Banner with Aaron Neville and Dr. John for Super Bowl XL, held in her hometown of Detroit in February 2006. She later made international headlines for performing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony with her church hat becoming a popular topic online. In 2010, Franklin accepted an honorary degree from Yale University.[59] In 2011, under her own label, Aretha’s Records, she issued the album Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love.

In 2014, Franklin was signed under RCA Records, controller of the Arista catalog and a sister label to Columbia via Sony Music Entertainment, and was working with Clive Davis. An album was planned with producers Babyface and Danger Mouse.[60] On September 29, 2014, Franklin performed to a standing ovation, with Cissy Houston as backup, a compilation of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on the Late Show with David Letterman.[61] Franklin’s cover of “Rolling in the Deep” was featured among nine other songs in her first RCA release, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, released in October 2014.[62] In doing so, she became the first woman to have 100 songs on Billboard?s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with the success of her cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, which debuted at number 47 on the chart.

In October 2014 Franklin became the first woman to have 100 songs on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with the success of her cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, which debuted at number 47 on the chart.

In December 2015 Franklin gave an acclaimed performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors during the section for honoree Carole King, who co-wrote the song. During the bridge of the song, Ms. Franklin dropped her fur coat to the stage, for which the audience rewarded her with a mid-performance standing ovation.

Franklin was a registered Democrat.

UPDATE

When Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012, Franklin said she was surprised by her death.[95][95] She had initially planned to perform at Houston’s memorial service on February 18, but her representative claimed that Franklin suffered a leg spasm and was unable to attend. In response to criticism of her non-attendance, she stated, “God knows I wanted to be there, but I couldn’t.

Health problems

Franklin dealt with weight issues for years. In 1974, she dropped 40 pounds (18 kg) during a crash diet[98] and maintained her new weight until the end of the decade.[99] Franklin again lost weight in the early 1990s before gaining some back.[100] A former chain smoker who struggled with alcoholism, sh the early 1970s in which she recorded top ten singles such as “Spanish Harlem”, “Rock Steady” and “Day Dreaming” as well as the acclaimed albums, Spirit in the Dark, Young, Gifted & Black and her gospel album, Amazing Grace, which sold over two million copies. In 1971, Franklin became the first R&B performer to headline Fillmore West, later recording the live album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

In 2010, Franklin canceled a number of concerts after she decided to have surgery for an undisclosed tumor.[100] Discussing the surgery in 2011, she quoted her doctor as saying it would “add 15 to 20 years” to her life. She denied that the ailment had anything to do with pancreatic cancer, as it was rumored.[104] On May 19, 2011, Franklin had her comeback show in the Chicago Theatre.[105] In May 2013, Franklin canceled two performances to deal with an undisclosed medical treatment.[106] Later the same month, Franklin canceled three June concerts and planned to return to perform in July.[107] A show scheduled for July 27 in Clarkston, Michigan was canceled due to continued medical treatment.[108] In addition, she canceled an appearance at a Major League Baseball luncheon in Chicago honoring her commitment to civil rights on August 24.[109] She also canceled a performance of September 21 in Atlanta due to her health recovery.[110]

During a phone interview with the Associated Press in late August 2013, Franklin stated she had a “miraculous” recovery from her undisclosed illness but had to cancel shows and appearances until she was at 100% health, estimating she was about “85% healed”.[111] Franklin later returned to live performing, including a 2013 Christmas concert at Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel. She launched a multi-city tour beginning in mid-2014, starting with a performance on June 14 in New York at Radio City Music Hall.[112]

In 2017, Franklin canceled a series of concerts due to health reasons. During an outdoor Detroit show, Franklin told the audience to “keep me in your prayers”.[113] In July 2017, Franklin reemerged, appearing to have lost more weight before a performance at the Wolf Trap in Virginia.[114] In 2018, Franklin canceled a series of shows citing doctor’s orders. Franklin’s final performance was at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City during Elton John’s 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on November 7, 2017.[115]

Final illness and death

On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be gravely ill at her home in Riverfront Towers, Detroit.[116][117] She was reported to be under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family. Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, and ex-husband Glynn Turman, among others, visited her on her deathbed.[118] Franklin died at her home on August 16, 2018, aged 76.[119] The cause was reported to be pancreatic cancer.[120][121]

Numerous celebrities in the entertainment industry and politicians paid tribute to Franklin, including former U.S. president Barack Obama who said she “helped define the American experience”.[122] Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton called her a “civil rights and humanitarian icon”

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Video source: www.youtube.com

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Photo: Aretha Franklin undisputed ‘Queen of Soul’.

PS Been a huge fan of Aretha Franklin since the late 60’s When I saw her in San Francisco sing in person “Respect”. Everyone got on their feet, clapping & singing along with her. She was powerful in person with her beautiful, clear, heartfelt voice and her soulful delivery. She was a mean piano player, too. She will be missed so glad we have her excellent songs to enjoy. Thank you, Aretha, for your music.

Posted by Teri Perticone

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