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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tribeca Film Festival To Open With ‘Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives’

The 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival will kick things off with the world premiere of the feature length documentary Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday, April 19th. Based on Davis’ 2013 bestselling autobiography, the film examines how Davis rocketed to the top of the bare-knuckles music industry, repeatedly building major record labels (Columbia, Arista, J), at times becoming the subject of great controversy while overcoming personal and professional challenges and tragedies.

Davis has signed, influenced, and driven the careers of many of the most important music artists of the 20th and 21st century including Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Earth Wind & Fire, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, The Kinks, The Grateful Dead, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Frankin, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Rod Stewart, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Whitney Houston.

“Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives is a fascinating exploration of his remarkable story and the impact that a great producer can have on artists and music. We are excited to have this powerful film premiere on our opening night,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder and Executive Chair of the Tribeca Film Festival.

“The Tribeca Film Festival has a wonderful tradition of artists supporting artists, so honoring Clive Davis and his unwavering commitment to music and creativity is the perfect way to open our 16th annual festival. With special live performances by some of the most talented artists of our time, it will be an unforgettable night to celebrate the arts and Clive,” said Tribeca’s Paula Weinstein.

“Directing this film provided a wonderful challenge because Clive Davis stands at the center of a culture-defining array of talent that has shaped the last half century of contemporary music. His is an inspiring story that’s sure to leave you with a smile on your face, a tug at your heart and a playlist of hits forever stuck in your head,” said director Chris Perkel.

(EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) * EXCLUSIVE * (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Record producer/ music industry executive Clive Davis (L) and Jennifer Hudson pose at the 2011 Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute To Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen at Beverly Hilton on February 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. Clive Davis And The Recording Academy’s 2011 Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen – Inside The Beverly Hilton Beverly Hills, CA United States February 12, 2011 Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images North America To license this image (63440220).

Following the premiere, a special concert featuring performances by Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Earth Wind & Fire, and more is scheduled to take place.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Aretha wows at Kennedy Center Honors

George Lucas, Rita Moreno, Seiji Ozawa, Cicely Tyson and Carole King were feted at the annual Kennedy Center Honors recently, but it was Detroit’s Queen of Soul who stole the show at the star-studded ceremony which aired Tuesday night.

Aretha Franklin took to the stage holding a glittery clutch and wearing a floor-length fur coat to sing Carol King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Franklin started the song seated, confidently accompanying herself on the piano, which caused King’s mouth to drop (and her reactions only got more emotional from there).

Before Franklin was finished with the first verse, President Barack Obama could be seen wiping a tear from his eye.

Franklin passed off the piano duties to another musician, and stood center stage, belting out the tune, which she released as a single in 1967. It was co-written by King, Gerry Goffin and Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler, and became a hit for Franklin when it reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Stars like Rosie Perez, Michele Obama and King herself could be seen singing along from the audience. A vision of Viola Davis, who was in attendance to pay tribute to actress Cicely Tyson, was shown smiling with both arms raised in the air.

Upon shedding her fur coat at the apex of the song, Franklin received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The gala was filmed Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. Members of the band the Eagles were also set to be honored this year, but their presentation was postponed to 2016 due to Detroit native Glenn Frey’s health problems.

Since 1978 the Kennedy Center Honors have been given to members of the performing arts community for their lifetime contributions to American culture. Franklin was recognized in 1994.

Aretha Franklin documentary blocked from Telluride film festival by judge

A federal judge in Colorado has granted an injunction to halt the opening night premiere of Amazing Grace, a documentary which features footage of the singer shot by Sydney Pollack in 1972

Amazing Grace, the highly-anticipated documentary about singing legend Aretha Franklin, has been pulled from the programme at the Telluride film festival following legal action by its subject.

On Friday – the day of its screening – Franklin filed a complaint against Telluride claiming that the footage “was taken with the express understanding that it would not be used commercially without agreement and consent by Ms Franklin”.

US District Judge John Kane, who serves in Colorado, imposed a temporary restraining order on the movie, meaning that its producers are blocked from showing it for a fortnight. A court spokesperson said there would then be another hearing as the litigation proceeds.

Earlier in the day, Telluride’s executive director, Julie Huntsinger, told press that the screening would proceed as planned. “[Franklin’s] lawyers are trying to stop us from showing the film,” she said. “Let’s just hope the paperwork that is filed has us covered. But [Franklin] should be proud.”

Joe Boyd, one of the movie’s producers, told the Detroit Free-Press on Thursday: “We are operating under the existing contract between Aretha Franklin and Warner Bros, which has governed the use of footage from this session in the past.”

The film, which uses footage from a 1972 concert by Franklin and was originally part of an unfinished film by the late Sydney Pollack, is also scheduled to show in six days time at the Toronto film festivals. Its documentary programmer, Thom Powers, told Deadline that they were still intending to screen and said they “haven’t heard of any legal procedures regarding the film in Toronto”.

Franklin’s complaint says that “allowing the film to be shown violates Ms Franklin’s contractual rights, her intellectual property rights, her rights to use and control her name and likeness, and represents an invasion of her privacy. It is also in direct and specific violation of the quitclaim agreement by which the footage was obtained from the Warner Brothers organisation by Mr. Alan Elliott, the purported producer of Amazing Grace.”

It goes on to note that four years ago Franklin sued Elliott over the same issue, and “the lawsuit was resolved after Elliott agreed not to release the film”.

The singer is also seeking at least $75,000 in damages, as well as further financial penalties to “deter similar future misconduct by others”.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Obama cries as Aretha Franklin proves why she's the queen of soul

Singing (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Franklin brought a tear to the president’s eye and sent Carole King, the song’s composer, into meltdown
Regal: Aretha Franklin at the opening of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Atrium at Lincoln Center, New York. Photograph: Mike Coppola/(Credit too long, see caption) 

You want to know why Aretha is the indisputable Queen of Soul? Watch this. You want to know why hacks like me send her fan mail by the week pleading for an interview, knowing there is sod-all hope, but not resenting her one smidge? Watch this. 

Aretha is performing at the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, held on 6 December in Washington and broadcast on CBS on Tuesday night. It wasn’t even Aretha’s night. Oh no. This ceremony was to award, among others, Rita Moreno, George Lucas and Carole King. Then up steps Aretha to sing the King/Goffin/Wexler 1967 classic (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Look at King, open-mouthed in shock and awe (the right kind of shock and awe) – and this is before Aretha’s even opened hers. Everything about Aretha is astonishing – the range, depth, control in her voice, the phrasing, the passion, the playing, the floor-length fur, the sparkling clutch purse. The more Aretha sings, the harder it is to believe that King is not going to die and go to heaven. President Obama is wiping away tears before Aretha’s even done with the first verse. Aretha is 73, looks wonderful, and might just be singing better than ever.
President Obama wipes away a tear as Aretha Franklin sings. Photograph: CBS

To top everything, she throws the mink to the ground with supreme elan. Nobody chucks a fur like Aretha. This is not the performance of the year, it’s the performance of the millennium. Long live the Queen.

Aretha Franklin to launch dessert line following Patti LaBelle’s sold-out pie success at Walmart

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
“Ms. Patti’s gonna have to move that pie to the side!” Franklin, who hasn’t tasted LaBelle’s dessert, told Detroit’s Local News 4 Today.

There’s a delicious duel baking between soul’s biggest divas.

Aretha Franklin announced she’s launching her own food line following the sweet success of fellow songstress Patti LaBelle’s sold-out sweet potato pies at Walmart.

“Ms. Patti’s gonna have to move that pie to the side!” Franklin, who hasn’t tasted LaBelle’s dessert, told Detroit’s Local News 4 Today.

The “Respect” singer has already met with a Phoenix-based food group to start developing her products. She’ll also offer savory items like chili, gumbo and baked chicken and dressing.

Perhaps Franklin wants a piece of LaBelle’s pie empire. The Grammy-winning singer and cookbook author sold $1 million of her $3.98 pies after fan James Wright Chanel sang the praises of her dessert in a viral YouTube Video that received 4.5 million views in November. LaBelle has since added two new Patti Cakes to her dessert line at Walmart and made her seasonal sweet potato pie available year-round.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Aretha Franklin on Singing for Pope Francis and Her Next Album

Among the admirers greeting Pope Francis on Saturday in Philadelphia, the last stop on his tour of the United States, will be American royalty. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, is scheduled to perform that night for the pope at the Festival of Families concert, along the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, with a million people expected to attend.

She will be joined by Mark Wahlberg, the event’s host, along with the Fray, Juanes, Jackie Evancho and other performers. But perhaps no other artist could be as prepared as Ms. Franklin, 73, who has sung over the years for Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth and President Obama, to name only a few.

On Thursday, Ms. Franklin discussed her trip to the festivities, her impressions of Pope Francis and how Jay Z fits into the equation. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

Q. I know you prefer to travel only by tour bus — did you drive all the way from your home in Detroit to Philadelphia?

Yes we did. It was lovely! I didn’t really do anything. I just rested all the way into Philadelphia. I had a trillion things to do at home — tons of stuff on my desk, my front steps needed doing and like a trillion emails a day, going back and forth about the trip and the people that were going to be there and all that sort of thing. We got it all done, I think, but it’s still not quite over. Email is going on all day, every day.

This is sort of old hat for you — you’ve performed for many dignitaries and world leaders. Do these events ever make you nervous?

It’s never old hat. I never take it for granted. If it’s new, it’s new. Every once in awhile there are butterflies. Every once in awhile. I wouldn’t say anyone makes me nervous — just a tiny butterfly here and there.

You’ve said you’ll be singing “Amazing Grace.” Why that song?

Because “Amazing Grace” is universal. It’s loved and appreciated by all faiths and, I expect that there will be a cross-section of faiths in the audience Saturday night.

Can we expect anything secular — “Respect,” or something in between, like “I Say a Little Prayer”?


Mmm, I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to be doing. It’ll be a very nice surprise.

Pope Francis made his first visit to the United States in September 2015, meeting followers and dignitaries in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. Explore the full coverage from The Times.

Your father, the Rev. C. L. Franklin, was a prominent civil rights activist and a Baptist preacher. What would he think of his daughter performing for the leader of the Catholic Church?

I think that he would be thrilled. My dad listened every Sunday to other faiths and other churches, other ministers, popes. If it was religious, he was listening. He was a theologian himself.

Speaking of my dad, I’m giving the pope a boxed set of my dad’s sermons on CDs — 25 volumes: the 23rd Psalm, “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest,” “Dry Bones in the Valley,” “Jacob Wrestled With the Angel” and so on.

What will you say to the pope if you have a moment to greet him personally?

I would just love to hear him speak on world peace. And I would like for him to meet my family, of course. I’m waiting — they’ll let me know. He’s had some kind of schedule, though, I’m telling you. But he’s stepping right along. He looks like he’s really, really, really enjoying it.


Are there specific aspects of Pope Francis’s message that speak to you most?

His humility and his concern with people, how he refers to himself as the son of an immigrant — I’m most impressed with that. That just tells me that he remembers who he is and his person, and particularly, honoring his father: “I am the son of.” And the fact that he is not overwhelmed by his title. He remembers where came from and who he is, as well as being the pope. There is greatness in humility, so I appreciate that.

I also like the idea of some possible change in the Vatican. I like the idea that he sent some of his assistants out to install showers in St. Peter’s Square. You can see that he adores the people and the people adore him. I was looking at his boyhood picture and you just see a goodness about him.

Is there anything he’s said thus far in his papacy that you disagree with?

No, nothing at all.

Along with Pope Francis, you’re on a bill with Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and the comedian Jim Gaffigan — are you a fan of any of the other performers?

I enjoy them all. Sister Sledge, you forgot them. I would love to have a duo with Mr. Bocelli — we’ll get our day one day.

You’ve said that you’ll be taking a semi-retirement moving forward.

Next year [interrupted by news footage of the pope leaving Washington, D.C.]. The pope is pulling away — American Airlines, there it goes. I’m watching TV while I’m talking to you. Lotta folks out there. I love the pageantry that D.C. had at his reception. I’ve never seen the White House that beautiful. Did you see that lighting on top of the White House? Have you ever seen that before? I think they must have had that put there just specially. All of the pomp and pageantry was just great. They certainly received the holy father appropriately.

Tell me about your retirement.

I’m not going to be doing as many concerts as I have been — three a month lately. I’ll do one a month, maybe two a month. But I’m going to spending time with my grandchildren. That’s what I want to do.

I drove 4,200 miles round-trip to Los Angeles [for concerts in August]. I went from Detroit to L.A. and I did several concerts out there. I was supposed to meet Mr. Davis — Clive Davis — in Las Vegas to talk about re-signing with RCA. But after driving 2,100 miles the one way and three concerts and all of the backstage guests and pictures, I was just beat by the time we got to Las Vegas. So I had to reschedule that. But there’s going to be new product coming up and they’re all going to be originals. I would say the first of the year.

What can you say about Sydney Pollack’s 1972 documentary about your album, “Amazing Grace,” which is currently in legal limbo?

There’s a gag order. I can’t talk to you about it at all.

Jay Z’s streaming service Tidal is going to have live video of Saturday’s concert on the Internet. Do you keep up with the battles over online streaming?

Sometimes I do. Jay Jay?

Jay Z.

Jay Z? You mean the rapper Jay Z? What’s the name of that company? I hadn’t heard that. What I think is great about the hip-hoppers is they are very aggressive young businessman. That’s great. They’re setting a very good example for others to follow.
Correction: September 26, 2015

An earlier version of a headline with this article misspelled the given name of a singer who will be performing for Pope Francis at the Festival of Families concert. As the article correctly notes, she is Aretha Franklin, not Arethra.

Aretha Franklin

When asked by Patricia Smith of the Boston Globe how she felt about being called the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklins reply was characterized by grace but no false modesty. Its an acknowledgment of my art, she mused. It means I am excelling at my art and my first love. And I am most appreciative. Since she burst onto the public consciousness in the late 1960s with a batch of milestone recordings, Franklin has served as a standard against which all subsequent soul divas have been measured.
The combination of Franklins gospel roots and some devastating life experiences have invested her voice with a rareand often wrenchingauthenticity. It was like I had no idea what music was all about until I heard her sing, confessed singer-actress Bette Midler, as cited in Ebony. Though Franklins work in ensuing decades has rarely matched the fireor the sales figuresof her most celebrated singles, she has remained an enduring presence in contemporary music. The release of several CD retrospectives in the 1980s and 1990s, her 1999 autobiography, and her celebrated 2003 tour seemed to guarantee that her influence would continue unabated.

Birth of a Gospel Singer

Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of famed minister C. L. Franklin and gospel singer Barbara Franklin, who left the family when Aretha was small and died shortly thereafter. She was the absolute lady, the Queen of Soul told Ebonys Laura B. Randolph, while at the same time admitting that her memories of her mother are few. For his part, the Reverend Franklin was no retiring clergyman; indeed, he enjoyed the popularity and, to some degree, the lifestyle of a pop star. He immediately recognized his daughters prodigious abilities, offering to arrange for piano lessons; the child declined, instead teaching herself to play by listening to records.
Franklins talent as a singer was such that her father took her on the road with his traveling gospel show. She sang regularly before his congregation at Detroits New Bethel Baptist Church as well, and it was there that her performance of Precious Lord, among other gospel gems, was captured for posterity. She was 14 years old but already a spellbinding performer. Producer Jerry Wexlerwho shepherded Franklin to

At a Glance

Born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, TN; daughter of Clarence L (a Baptist minister) and Barbara Franklin (a gospel singer); married Ted White (a businessman and music manager), 1961 (divorced); married Glynn Turman (an actor), 1978 (divorced, 1984); children: Clarence, Edward, Teddy Richards, Kecalf Cunningham.
Career: Performed with fathers touring revue, recorded gospel music for Chess label, 1950s; singer and songwriter, 1960-; Columbia Records, recording artist, 1960-67; Atlantic Records, recording artist, 1967-80; actress, 1980-; Arista Records, recording artist, 1980-.
Awards: 15 Grammy awards, including 1995 lifetime achievement award; honorary Doctor of Law degree, Bethune-Cookman College, 1974; American Music Award, 1984; Ebony magazine, American Black Achievement Award, 1984; declared natural resource of home state of Michigan, 1985; first woman inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1987; Entertainment Weekly magazine, named one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century, 1999; Black Entertainment Television (BET), Walk of Fame Award, 2003.
Addresses: Record company Arista Records, 6 West 57th St., New York, NY 11019; 9975 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
greatness on behalf of Atlantic Records some years laterwas stunned by the 1956 recording.The voice was not that of a child but rather of an ecstatic hierophant [a priest in ancient Greece], he recalled in his book Rhythm and the Blues.
Franklins life was no church social, however. She became a mother at age 15 and had her second child two years later. I still wanted to get out and hang with my friends, she recollected toEbonys Randolph, so I wanted to be in two places at the same time. But my grandmother helped me a lot, and my sister and my cousin. They would babysit so I could get out occasionally.
Though she was first and foremost inspired by gospel musicthe performance of Peace in the Valley by family friend Clara Ward at a funeral was a seminal influence on her desire to singFranklin soon became interested in non-religious music. Rather than dissuade her from this secular path, as some might have expected, her father encouraged her. In 1960 she traveled to New York, embarked on vocal and dance lessons, and hired a manager. She then began recording demonstration tapes.

Marriage of Gospel and Pop

While the R&B stars of Detroits Motown label won a crossover, or white, audience by tempering their wicked grooves with a playful elegance, their southern counterparts never bothered to tone down the raw physicality of the music. Like singer-songwriter-pianist Ray Charles, who has often been credited with the invention of soul music, Franklin brought the fire of gospel to pop music, her spiritual force in no way separated from her earthy sexuality.
Celebrated Columbia Records executive John Hammond was so taken by Franklins recordings that he signed her immediately. Her first Columbia album was issued in the fall of 1960. While a few singles made a respectable showing on the charts, it was clear that the label wasnt adequately showcasing her gifts, either in its choice of material or production. I cherish the recordings we made together, remarked Hammond in Rhythm and the Bluesbut, finally, Columbia was a white company [that] misunderstood her genius.
Franklins manager at the time, Ted White, was also her husband; they agreed that she should pursue other options when her contract expired. Wexler leapt at the opportunity to sign her to Atlantic; he originally intended to send her to Memphis to record with the staff of the legendary Stax/Volt studios, whod already made landmark recordings with the likes of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. Wexler himself had his hands full with other projects, but the task of producing Franklins first Atlantic sides ultimately fell to him, Arif Mardin, and Tom Dowd.
Wexler brought Franklin to the Florence Alabama Music Emporium (FAME) studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to record with a unique group of musicians adept in soul, blues, pop, country, and rock. This able crew was stunned by Franklins power and prowess. Accompanying herself on piano, she deftly controlled the tone and arrangement of the songs she performed; this was an integral part of Wexlers strategy to capture her natural brilliance on tape. Backing vocals were provided either by her sisters Carolyn and Erma or by the vocal group the Sweet Inspirations, which featured Cissy Houston, mother of future singing star Whitney Houston. Wexler also brought in young rock lions like guitarists Duane Allman and Eric Clapton for guest spots.
Unfortunately, only one of two songsI Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)was finished when White and one of the musicians had a drunken row. White grabbed Franklin and they vanished for a period of weeks. Wexler balanced jubilation with anxiety; radio programmers around the country embraced I Never Loved a Man, and distributors clamored for an album, but the artist was nowhere to be found. At last she surfaced in New York, where she completed the unfinished Do Right Woman, Do Right Man; in Wexlers words, the result was perfection.


Franklins first album for Atlantic, I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You), was released in 1967, and several hit-filled LPs followed. During this crucial period she enjoyed a succession of smash singles that included I Never Loved a Man, the rollicking Baby I Love You, the pounding groove Chain of Fools, the supercharged Think, which she wrote, the tender, anthemic (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman, and a blistering take on Otis ReddingRespect. The latter two would become Franklins signature songs. With Natural Woman, according to theBoston Globes Smith, She gathers broken women in the circle of her arms, stitches our wounds with a wondrous thread.
Franklins version of Respect, coming as it did at a crucial point for black activism, feminism, and sexual liberation, was particularly potent. Wexler noted that Franklin took Reddings more conventional take on the song and turned it inside out, making it deeper, stronger, loading it with double entendres. Whats more, he noted, The fervor in Arethas magnificent voiceimplied not just everyday respect but sexual attention of the highest order, as implied by thesock it to me backup chorus she and her sisters devised.
Writer Evelyn C. White, in an Essence piece, referred to Respect as a revolutionary force in her own life. Franklinimpassioned, soulful licks and sly innuendos about sexual pleasure made me feel good about myself, she wrote, both as a black American and as a young girl about to discover sex. Eventually, the song would become an American pop standard; its spelling out of the title word would be referenced in countless articles and commercials. At the time of its release, however, it served primarily as a fight song for social change. It scored two trophies at that years Grammy Awards.
Franklins voice was crucial to the soundtrack of the era, and not just as a record playing on the radio. Franklins father was a close friend of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and as a result, she herself was close to King and his family. When the crusading minister was assassinated in 1968, Franklin was enlisted to sing at his funeral. Wexler described her performance of Precious Lord as a holy blend of truth and unspeakable tragedy.
Franklin also sang the National Anthem at the Democratic Partys riot-marred 1968 convention in Chicago. Yet even as her soulful wail soothed a number of difficult national transitions and transformations, Franklins own changes were hidden from view. I think of Aretha as Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows, Wexler wrote. Her eyes are incredible, luminous eyes covering inexplicable pain. Her depressions could be as deep as the dark sea. I dont pretend to know the sources of her anguish, but anguish surrounds Aretha as surely as the glory of her musical aura.
Despite her inner turmoil, Franklin enjoyed phenomenal commercial success during these years. A number of other blockbuster Atlantic albums followed her debut on the label, and she proceeded to take home Grammys every year between 1969 and 1975. Still, she did not rest on her laurels; rather, she constantly explored rock and pop records for new material and recorded cover versions of songs by the Beatles, Elton John, the Band, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, and many others. She didnt think in terms of white or black tunes, or white or black rhythms,noted Wexler. Her taste, like her genius, transcended categories.
In 1972 Franklin sang at the funeral of gospel giant Mahalia Jackson, which suggested her stature in the gospel world; it was no surprise when Amazing Grace, an album of church music she recorded with Wexler, soared up the pop charts that year. At the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977, she provided an a capella rendition of God Bless America.

A Period of Decline

Having parted ways with husband/manager Ted White some years earlierstories circulated in the press charging that hed struck her in publicFranklin married actor Glynn Turman in 1978. They divorced some six years later. By the end of the 1970s, her record sales had dwindled, but she took an attention-getting turn in the Blues Brothers movie, in which she both acted and sang; the film and the Blues Brothers albums, recorded by Saturday Night Live funnymen and blues and soul fanatics Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, helped fuel a new mainstream interest in 1960s soul.
In 1980 Franklin elected to leave Atlantic and sign with Arista Records; the labels slick production and commercial choice of material earned greater sales than she had enjoyed for some time, particularly for the single Freeway of Love. She earned three more Grammys during the decade. Nonetheless, Dave DiMartino of Entertainment Weekly groused that most of her hits at Arista have been assembled by big-name producers like Narada Michael Walden and might have easily featured another singer entirelylike, say, label mate Whitney Houston.DiMartino also objected to the relentless pairing of Franklin with other stars for much-hyped duets, remarking, Like Aretha Franklin needs a gimmick? Most critics agree that Franklins 1980s recordings do not stand up to her earlier or her later work.
In 1979 Franklins father was shot by a burglar in his home and fell into a coma. He died several years later, having never regained consciousness. As Ebonys Randolph wrote, When youve said as many goodbyes as Aretha, its impossible not to be palpably shaped by loss. The singer cited a point during her fathers hospitalization as the most difficult decision of her life. We had to have a trach [a tracheotomy, a procedure that involves cutting through the vocal chords], she confided, and we were afraid it would affect his voice, which was certainly his living.

The Queen Is Still On

Despite the difficulties of the early 1980s, further triumphs lay ahead for Franklin. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, won a Grammy for best soul gospel performance in 1988, and was the subject of an all-star documentary tribute broadcast on public television. She also sang at the inauguration of president Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, and won a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1995. Franklin might not have been the commercial powerhouse that some of her younger acolytes, like Houston and Mariah Carey, had become, but when she appeared in the VH1 television program Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin in 2001, she confirmed that she truly was one of the great entertainers of the century.
Franklin moved back to the Detroit area in the mid-1990s and began to assert more control over her musical career. She announced her intention to start a record label, which would be called World Class Records. Im looking for space, she told the Boston GlobeIm the CEO. With her new label she was able to promote the musical careers of her sons, Kecalf Cunningham, Eddy Richards, and Teddy Richards.
In 1998 Franklin released a new album, A Rose Is Still a Rose. With tracks produced by rising stars Sean Puffy Combs (later known as P. Diddy) and Lauryn Hill, the album showed that Franklin could keep up with current hip-hop sounds. Critics hailed the album as her best effort in many years, and she followed it in 2003 with So Damn Happy, which featured collaborations with contemporary stars Mary J. Blige and Troy Taylor, and music veterans like Burt Bacharach. Though the albums proved that Franklin could keep up with musical trends, what made them stand out was the thing that had always made Franklin great: her voice. The producers seemed to understand what Franklins fan always knew: that her voice was a natural treasure.
Franklin had always performed occasionally, but in 2003 she set out on an extensive tour to sold-out dates across the country. Though many wondered if The Queen Is On tour would be her last, Franklin told Jet:
Im going to always be singing. Singing is definitely my thing.

Selected works


The Great Aretha Franklin, Columbia, 1960.
The Electrifying Aretha Franklin, Columbia, 1962.
The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin, Columbia, 1962.
Aretha Franklins Greatest Hits, Columbia, 1967.
I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You) (includes I Never Loved a Man [the Way I Love You], Do Right Woman, Do Right Man, Baby I Love You, and Respect), Atlantic, 1967.
Aretha Arrives (includes [You Make Me Feel Like a] Natural Woman and Chain of Fools), Atlantic, 1967.
Take a Look, Columbia, 1967.
Lady Soul, Atlantic, 1968.
Aretha Now, Atlantic, 1968.
Aretha in Paris, Atlantic, 1968.
Soul 69, Atlantic, 1969.
Arethas Gold, Atlantic, 1969.
This Girls in Love with You, Atlantic, 1970.
Spirit in the Dark, Atlantic, 1970.
Aretha Live at Fillmore West, Atlantic, 1971.
Young, Gifted and Black, Atlantic, 1972.
Amazing Grace, Atlantic, 1972.
The Beginning/The World of Aretha Franklin 1960-1967, Columbia, 1972.
Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), Atlantic, 1973.
Let Me in Your Life, Atlantic, 1974.
Everything I Feel in Me, Atlantic, 1975.
Ten Years of Gold, Atlantic, 1977.
Sweet Passion, Atlantic, 1977.
Almighty Fire, Atlantic, 1978.
La Diva, Atlantic, 1979.
Aretha, Arista, 1980.
Jump to It, Arista, 1982.
Get It Right, Arista, 1984.
Whos ZoominWho? (includes Freeway of Love), Arista, 1985.
Aretha, Arista, 1987.
Love All the Hurt Away, Arista, 1987.
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, Arista, 1988.
Through the Storm, Arista, 1989.
What You See Is What You Sweat, Arista, 1991.
Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings, Atlantic, 1992.
Greatest Hits: 1980-1994, Arista, 1994.
A Rose Is Still a Rose, Arista, 1998.
So Damn Happy, Arista, 2003.


The Blues Brothers, 1980.
Blues Brothers 2000, 1998.

Recordings with other artists

Curtis Mayfield, Sparkle (soundtrack), 1976.
Think, The Blues Brothers (soundtrack), 1979.
JumpinJack Flash, JumpinJack Flash (soundtrack), 1986.
George Michael, I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me), Columbia, 1987.
If I LoseWhite Men Cant Jump (soundtrack), EMI, 1992.
All Men Are Brothers: A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield, 1994.


Aretha, 1986.
Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul, 1988.
Duets, 1993.
Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin, VH1, 2001.


Aretha: From These Roots (autobiography; with David Ritz), Villard, 1999.



Gourse, Leslie, Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul, F Watts, 1995.
Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, Billboard, 1991.
Werner, Craig Hansen, Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul, Crown, 2004.
Wexler, Jerry, and David Ritz, Rhythm and the Blues: A Life in American Music, Knopf, 1993.


Billboard, February 28, 1998, pp. 13-14.
Boston Globe, June 14, 1991, p. 39; March 21, 1994, p. 30; September 29, 1995, p. 55.
Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1994, p. 3D; June 18, 1994, p. 2A.
Ebony, April 1995, pp. 28-33; August 1998, pp. 90-93.
Entertainment Weekly, May 15, 1992, p. 64; Nov. 1, 1999, p. 81.
Essence, August 1995, pp. 73-77.
Jet, August 21, 1995, p. 33; May 18, 1998, pp. 60-65; September 29, 2003, pp. 58-64.
Newsweek, October 4, 1999, p. 68.
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