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Her first recording with Atlantic, the epoch-making single I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)” was backed with “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”, a gospel influenced plea for love, affection and respect featuring a beautifully soulful vocal from Aretha.Backed by the famed Muscle Shoals house band and with lustrous backing vocals from her sisters Carolyn and Erma and Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy, Aretha added her own sumptuous piano and organ and delivered the definitive version of a much covered classic. Don’t Play That Song (1970) Demonstrating Aretha’s oft overlooked piano chops to great effect (check her 1970 appearance on the Cliff Richard show on You Tube), this million-selling single features an exuberant whooping and soaring Franklin vocal, totally at odds with the song’s lyrics.Aretha Franklin had moderate success as a recording artist on the R&B singles chart dating back to her first top 10 hit "Today I Sing the Blues" in 1960.
Now, Aretha Franklin has announced her impending retirement, and with her 75th birthday falling on 25 March, what better time to celebrate the music of “Lady Soul” with this list of her 10 greatest songs?
These selections all come from Aretha’s golden Atlantic Records period from 1967 to 1970, but that is no slight on her later triumphs.
The singer has just announced her engagement to beau William Wilkerson. Okay, I was interested in buying some thoroughbred horses to run. Lady Di wasn't married to Prince Charles yet, but she was there, and the Queen Mum, and I found them to be warm, genuine kind of people.
The two began dating in the 1980s after Aretha's second marriage, to actor Glynn Turman, ended in 1984. HACKETT: Do you think that you'll ever want to take acting classes again? Not for the big stakes like Belmont or anything, but to run at DRC [Detroit Race Course] or Hazel Park. Sammy Davis hosted, and Sheen Easton was there, and Cleo Lane and James Cagney and J. HACKETT: Did the Queen realize that you were the Queen of Soul?
We've featured Franklin a number of times over the course of her relationship with Wilkerson, but the December 1986 interview ranks among the best. FRANKLIN: I think I'll want coaching more than anything else. "HACKETT: The way you say it, that would be enough. FRANKLIN: I'm writing some things for Wayne Newton. I knew he had horses, so I called him about that, and then as we were talking I asked what record company he was with and he said he wasn't under contract to anyone. FRANKLIN: I don't know but she certainly did enjoy "Amazing Grace." I sung that and "My Shining Hour."HACKETT: When did you first hear yourself called Queen of Soul?
Not only is Franklin wearing a tremendous '80s get-up (shoulder-padded sweater, hoop earrings, and all), the interview is full of esoterica. FRANKLIN: I went to Lee Strasberg's in New York for, oh, two days. And of course, my ex-husband [Glynn Turman] taught acting and I sat in on all of his classes. HACKETT: Weren't you going to do something in a Stallone movie? My security people kept saying, "Haven't you seen him yet? HACKETT: Your sister Carolyn once said that you used to get in fights defending her in the schoolyard. Clive Davis, the president of Arista, recently said he'd let me produce three projects, so one of them will be Wayne, and then two people I've selected locally here in Detroit.
At the time of the interview reprinted below, Franklin was the best-selling female artist ever.
Alas, Franklin has since been dislodged by Madonna, mentioned in this interview with regards to "Papa Don't Preach," a delicate subject for Franklin, who had her first child at fourteen. He moved the family to Detroit, where, at age twelve, she joined the choir at his New Bethel Baptist Church.
For example, did you know that long before Lady Gaga, Aretha performed at the Academy Awards wearing antlers? FRANKLIN: I got an offer about two months ago, but they were so quick, they've done it already! " Well, I finally did, and he's got a real knockout punch. HACKETT: What do you think of twelve-round championship fights instead of fifteen? Will you describe one of these fights—what you would say and what they would say?