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♫ I must admit, I haven’t been aware of Aretha Franklin’s music throughout my life; I’ve only really started listening to her work in the last three years. However, after finding out that I can write an review on her, I decided to do a little probing and I found out a lot more about her. So here’s what I discovered… ♫ In 1956, 14 year old Aretha Franklin, a choir girl sang, ‘Precious Lord’ to a congregation of four and a half thousand at the New Bethel Baptist church in Detroit. Since then, Aretha has sold over 12 million singles, has achieved 20 number one R&B hits, 15 Grammys and a Civil Rights award from Martin Luther King Jr. ♫So here’s the life story… ♫ Aretha was born on March 25th, 1942 in Memphis. She had two sisters Carolyn and Emma and the three used to sing in their church every Sunday as their father was the orator. ♫At thirteen years of age, Aretha became an unwed mother. By 17, she had two sons and lived in Detroit however, she had a future in New York so in 1960, her grandmother took care of the children while Aretha travelled to Manhattan. After recording demo tapes and attracting national attention, she was signed up by Columbia Records. It was here that Aretha was encouraged into pop music territory rather than R&B. Columbia produced ten albums but only one pop hit in six years. ♫ In 1966 her contract with Columbia expired, she was signed by Atlantic Records and rediscovered her R&B roots. In the three years that followed, Aretha sold millions of albums that had numerous top 20 gospel-crossover hits such as, ‘respect’, ‘baby I love you’, ‘since you’ve been gone’ and ‘think’. (four of my personal favourites!) ‘Respect’ won Aretha two Grammy awards and an honorary award from Martin Luther King Jr. Aretha’s private life was not doing as well as her music career. Her eight year marriage to Ted White ended in 1969 after they had had a son. In the same year, her father was arrested for possession of marijuana. In the early seventies, Aretha continued to produce hits and she also gave birth to her fourth son, out of marriage. ♫ Every year between 1969 and 1975, Aretha Franklin won Grammy awards but in the late seventies her record sales were plummeting. In 1980, Aretha gave her career a kick-start with a cameo appearance in the Blues Brothers where she was introduced to a younger audience. She also left Atlantic records for Arista and produced new hits. In 1980, a year after her father died of gunshot wounds suffered during an attempted break-in at his home, her first Arista album, ‘Aretha’ was released. It became her highest charting album since 1972. ♫ In 1981, her album, ‘Love all the hurt away’ was only a slight success. From 1981 to 1987, Aretha sang duets with George Benson and George Michael. In 1987 Aretha returned to her roots with the gospel song, ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ which earned her a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance. In this year she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ♫ 1988 was the year Aretha stepped out of the spotlight. In this year, her sister Carolyn, her brother and her manager all died. By 1989, Aretha was back and sang a duet with Luther Vandross. After this, Aretha wrote a biography (which I’m looking forward to reading!) and in 1995 she received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award’. In 1998 Aretha had a small role in the ‘Blues Brothers 2000’ and she remade ‘Respect’ (my favourite song, ever!) which is on the film soundtrack.
♫ Well, that’s enough of the history. I found lots more information but I’m guessing you’re all bored enough already with me rambling on. I must just say before I stop, I have the double CD: Aretha Franklin Greatest Hits and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone. It has duets with George Michael, George Benson, Whitney Houston, Elton John and the Eurythmics as well as 336 songs of pure Aretha! Well, for those of you who are still awake, thanks for reading. I hope I didn’t bore you too much! Now where was I? Oh yeah, ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me…’