Queen of Soul


Aretha Franklin performing at the White House, April 2015 / Wikimedia Commons.

Along with the rest of the world, we were saddened at MusiCB3 to learn of the death of Aretha Franklin.

Known in various parts of the world as Lady Soul, Sister Ree, La Diva Franklin, Le Regina del Soul, La Magnifique, and The Queen of Soul, Franklin’s career began in the choir of the Detroit church where her father was a minister, and where she recorded her first album in 1956 at the age of 14. It was in the late 1960s that her career took off, however, with her producer at Atlantic Records encouraging her to embrace her gospel roots, rather than trying to push her style towards jazz as had happened with her earlier record label, Columbia. Songs recorded during this time such as ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, ‘Respect’, and ‘Think’ were the ones that shot her to fame, along with her breakthrough album recorded in 1967, ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You’.

Franklin’s gospel journey continued with the release of her most popular album, ‘Amazing Grace‘, which sold over two million copies in the US. Aaron Cohen’s exploration of this album for the 33 1/3 series is available as an electronic legal deposit copy, accessible on electronic legal deposit terminals at both the UL and the Pendlebury.

You can find two biographies of Franklin at the UL. Mark Bego’s ‘Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul’ is on South Front at: M557.c.95.348, and David Ritz’s ‘Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin’ (dismissed by Franklin, it is worth bearing in mind, as a “trashy book”) is at classmark: M557.c.201.83.

To revisit Franklin’s appearance as Mrs Murphy in The Blues Brothers, and the re-recording of her song ‘Think’ for the famous diner scene, you can find the film on DVD at the Pendlebury at classmark: DVD.F.54.


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