Aretha Franklin

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  • Topic: Aretha Franklin, Soul music, Whitney Houston
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  • Published : December 13, 2010
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Aretha Franklin is an American singer, songwriter and pianist commonly referred to as

"The Queen of Soul". Although renowned for her soul recordings, Franklin is also adept

at jazz, rock, blues, pop, R&B and gospel. She is widely acclaimed for her passionate

vocal style and powerful range. In 2008, the American music magazine Rolling Stone

ranked Franklin 1 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Aretha Franklin was

born March 25, 1942 in Memphis. Franklin grew up in Detroit, where her father, Rev.

C.L. Franklin, served as pastor at the New Bethel Baptist Church. one of the most

influential and important voices in the history of popular music. Aretha began singing

church music at an early age. Her mother Barbara was also a gospel singer and deserted

the family when Aretha was six and died four years later. Aretha and her sisters Carolyn

and Erma sang regularly at their father's church and Aretha's first recordings( The Gospel

Sound of Aretha Franklin) were made there when she was 14. The person that influence

was her aunt, Clara Ward, a renowned singer of sacred music. Many future stars

including Smokey Robinson knew the family and in the '50s Berry Gordy Jr. tried to sign

Aretha to his Motown label but Reverend Franklin refused. Aretha ended up being signed

with Columbia Records in 1960 after A&R man John Hammond heard a demo she cut in

New York. She remained at Columbia for six years, cutting ten albums that failed to fully

tap into her capabilities. Jerry Wexler was waiting in the wings to sign Franklin when her

contract with Columbia expired. In 1966 she signed with Atlantic. With the help of

producer Jerry Wexler, arranger Arif Mardin and engineer Tom Dowd, Franklin began to

make the records that would reshape soul music. Her most productive period ran from

1967 through 1972. The revelations began with her first Atlantic single, “I Never Loved a

Man (the Way I Loved You).” Working closely with producer Jerry Wexler, engineer

Tom Dowd and arranger Arif Mardin, Franklin followed her triumphant first album with

recordings that furthered her claim to the title “Queen of Soul.” Her next three albums -

Aretha Arrives (1967), Lady Soul (1968) and Aretha Now (1968) - included “Chain of

Fools,” “Think,” “Baby, I Love You,” “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby),”

and a soulful rendering of Carole King’s “A Natural Woman.” Her lengthy tenure with

Atlantic came to an end in 1979 after twelve years and nineteen albums. In the Eighties

she recorded everything from gospel to dance music for Arista Records, finding the upper

reaches of the charts with “Freeway of Love” and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who.” In 1987

Franklin had the second Number One hit of her career, “I Knew You Were Waiting (for

Me),” a duet with George Michael, which came exactly twenty years after she topped the

chart with “Respect.” Aretha teamed up with Rolling Stone Keith Richard in 1986 for a

version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” that appeared in the Whoopi Goldberg movie of the

same name. In 1980, Franklin's career was given a much-needed boost by a cameo

performance as Mrs. Matt Murphy in The Blues Brothers, singing Think. That same year,

Clive Davis signed Aretha to his Arista Records. The singles "United Together" and

"Love All The Hurt Away", a duet with George Benson returned her to the Top 10 on the

Billboard R&B Singles chart. But it was the spectacular 1982 album, Jump To It,

produced by longtime admirer Luther Vandross, and the title-track single that gave Aretha

her first R&B chart-topping and pop success. The album enjoyed a long run at 1 on

Billboard's R&B Albums chart (even the Zoomin' album only reached 3). It won an

American Music Award, was nominated for a Grammy and was certified gold in early

1983 Aretha's first gold disc since the 1976 Sparkle album. Aretha returned to...
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