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Aretha Franklin, RIP   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, August 17, 2018 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE:

...with ARETHA FRANKLIN, universally acclaimed as the “Queen of Soul” and one of America’s greatest singers (and best sellers) in any style, who died on Thursday at her home in Detroit. She was 76. I usually post this 1968 "Lady Soul" concert -- which includes  "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Come Back Baby," "Dr Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business)," "Since You've Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby)" "I  Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)," "Chain Of Fools," and "Respect" -- dhring Black History month, not just because she was black, but because she was a piece of black history.  Before Aretha, there were few solo female rock or pop stars; African-American women tended to get packaged in groups. And gospel music tended to be an indirect influence in pop music (excepting perhaps Sam Cooke). She opened many doors and played a role in the civil rights movement (though she was generally humble about that role).  Franklin also became a voice of female empowerment, while never coming across as a doctrinaiire feminist. Indeed, while she was involved and a role model, she was herself most of all -- which her made her story a very American one and her appeal transcend political, racial and gender lines.  She had a personality that matched the force and range of her vocal instrument-- and her seemingly effortless ability to dial her wattage from diva to star to neighbor to mother suggests to the casual observer that she had equal command of both.  These elements may explain her ubiquity over the decades, as noted in so many of the obituaries and tributes pouring forth yesterday.  We still hear Franklin regularly yet it is remarkably difficult to tire of hearing her, not only because of her immense natural talent, but also because of her confidence and depth.  On that note, you vcn go with a playlist of 20 essential songs at the NYT, or a broader playlist from NPR.  Or you could go to Stereogum for 20 great moments and 10 deep cuts, while NPR has a different set of deep cuts.  And if you really want to go deep, Oliver Wang's tweet thread has has you covered. PLUS: A 1999 Fresh Air interview in which Franklin talks about her father's gospel influence, growing up with Sam Cooke, crossing over to pop music and more. She talks about her transormation of Otis Redding's  "Respect" in that interview, and it's also the subject of this piece by Carl Wilson.  PLUS: This 1974 profile from Rolling Stone, and this 2016 longread from The New Yorker. And this story about Etta James and Sarah Vaughn.

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