Aretha Franklin: soul music mourns for their queen...
No matter how one approaches the equation, the sum of the words "voice" and "soul music" always gives the same result: Aretha! All throughout her career, Lady Soul, as she was known, lent her voice to gospel, funk, rhythm'n'blues, jazz and soul like no other.
A voice that grew up alongside those of her sisters at a church in Detroit in the choir of her father-cum-pastor. The legendary John H. Hammond, who discovered the very young Aretha Franklin, signed her to Columbia in the early sixties, eager to make her a jazz singer.
But after a few sessions (anecdotal in terms of the quality of what the next few years would offer...), she moved to Jerry Wexler's Atlantic label. With the help of the great producer and the musicians of Muscle Shoals, her pure gospel-impregnated voice adorned itself with the attributes of Deep South rhythm'n'blues to vibrate like never before with masterpieces by Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Chips Moman, Dan Penn and Ray Charles. At this point recording in Alabama, Aretha had a sound that was raw in its appearance but boiling to the touch throughout songs that would become hymns (Respect, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You), Do Right Woman, Do Right Man...). On the record Lady Soul, released in 1968, she even collaborated with Joe South, Bobby Womack, King Curtis, the Sweet Inspirations and Eric Clapton.
All the Atlantic albums of the late 60's and early 70's of this extraordinary entertainer are real jewels: Lady Soul, Aretha Now, Soul'69, This Girl's In Love With You, Spirit In The Dark, Young Gifted And Black, Live At Fillmore West or Amazing Grace, a return to the roots of pure gospel that she released in 1972. In addition to being a major artist for the black community, Aretha Franklin was a key personality in the African-American community. Her songs accompanied the struggle for civil rights as well as women's rights in America in the 1960s and 1970s. A monument, without a doubt.
On August 16, 2018, after a long battle with cancer, the Queen of Soul died in Detroit at the age of 76.
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