Aretha Franklin, the divine diva of soul

Nothing would ever change, and she was proud of : “The people are very nice to ask me for autographs, but I don’t have the head spinning. I do not feel different from what I was before, ” explained Aretha Franklin in 1968, receiving the first of 18 Grammy Awards which were to mark his career. 26 years, its recovery in the triumph of ” Respect “, a song by Otis Redding, came from him, a nickname which has the value of a title of nobility, and whose person would not reach to the dispossessed : “Queen of Soul “. Or ” Lady Soul “, simply.

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At the time of his coronation, she has already lived a hundred lives. Born in 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, she grew up in the music, to the music. His father, the reverend Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, was a baptist preacher whose sermons, famous in the ghetto blacks, are edited by the brand of discs of Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. In the neighbourhood of the poverty-stricken Detroit (Michigan), where he established in 1946, his homilies are interspersed with gospel songs played by the choir of the New Bethel Baptist Church, his sanctuary. Aretha is a part of it with its sisters and brothers. She was 5 years old when she began singing, perched on a crate facing the faithful, and to play the piano. Funny preacher, moreover, that this father, to whom she will give up after a admiration unconditional : his deep faith does not prevent it, nor to attend the who’s who of jazz and rhythm-and-blues (Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke are among his close relatives), or to advocate for the civil rights of Blacks (Martin Luther King lives at home when he is in Detroit), nor the smoke of the firecrackers (he was given a prison sentence for possession of marijuana), not to be a trousseur of petticoats unrepentant, not too much looking on the age of his conquests (he even makes a child to one of his flock, a teenager of 12 years)… Tired of his escapades, his wife, Barbara Siggers, also a gospel singer, left him six years after the birth of Aretha, leaving them to fend alone with her and their other kids. When she died, in 1952, Aretha, who is 10 years old, succeeded him as soloist to the church. Each time the pastor – paid $ 4,000 a preaching – tour of the gospel, the girl comes with it.

Before the age of 13 years, she gives birth to her first son

The mercurial reverend he was very soon passed on his passion for singing and his religious fervor, but also its design is surprisingly flexible use of the moral in love. Two months before celebrating his 13th birthday, in January 1955, as Aretha gives birth to a little boy, also named Clarence, whose father is one of his high school buddies. The following year, at age 14, she recorded her first disc, ” Songs of Faith “, an album of devotional songs for a local label. In January 1957, two months before his 15th birthday and two years almost to the day after the birth of her first boy, she gave birth to a second son, Edward, whose progenitor is a vague flirtation already disappeared from his life.

Little by little, over the touring with his father, his reputation grew. Her voice four octaves, an ease that is impressive, did wonder in the religious repertoire of which she knows so well to magnify the emotion and how she observes so little of the precepts. Leaving his children to his grand-mother, she seems determined to no longer devote himself, now, that, in its art. John Hammond, the talent scout who launched Billie Holiday and is ready to prove to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, takes it under contract, at 18 years old, to the powerful company Columbia. But, under the pressure of his employers, he urges her to forsake the gospel in favor of the jazz. Without failures, his albums sell poorly. Aretha holds the rigour responsible for the label. “They have not put their weight behind me as they did for Barbra Streisand “, she said, bitter. Artist frustrated, she is also a woman humiliated. It has, in 1961, married a former thug became his manager, Ted White. He fights with his musicians, the horn, he bites his under and, for good measure, he knocks over. To endure this hell, she drinks. It is the beginning of an addiction to alcohol that will gnaw mentally and change physically, and it will never heal. Even the birth of a new child, Ted Jr., his third son, in February 1964, will change nothing. And in 1968, after many disappointments in marriage, it will not be less desperate when her rival on the stage of soul, Bettye LaVette, him fauchera her poor husband.

In 1968, she sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King

On the artistic side, fortunately, everything shifts at the end of 1966. Leaving Columbia, Aretha switched to Atlantic, the label of Ray Charles, where she finds her true path : the soul music, at the crossroads of gospel and rhythm and blues. She excels in this diversion profane and playful of the sacred repertoire, where the excitement of sensual takes on the sublimation mystical. Immediately, the success is there, bursting, echoed in the whole world. The tubes are linked together : “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You) “, “Good to Me as I Am to You,” and, above all, this extraordinary “Respect” that she turns, with an energy staggering, a sense of humor prodigious and feeling irresistible, anthem, sensual and joyful for the equality of peoples and sexes.

Never Lady Soul does not will deviate from its royal road. The rigorists will be a nice game to reproach him for his concessions to the musiquette disco and the variety, or his taste for the duos sometimes improbable (with Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Keith Richards, George Michael, Elton John, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and many others). What matters is the warmth of her voice, the breadth of his timbre, and the generosity of his exuberance. It can afford : arriving late to his concerts, showing off the outfits of the more extravagant (tight-fitting dress, lamé, mink stole or robe printed) and the hairstyles the most dissimilar (sauerkraut lacquered, chignon strict or fading blonde), to take or to lose fifteen kilos between the two benefits. As soon as she sings and what she sings, the magic happens.
It will record total of 42 studio albums and sell over 75 million records. It will be the first artist black to surpass Elvis Presley in the charts, and the first woman to enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. She sang at the 1968 funeral of Martin Luther King, and in 2009 at the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama.

Read also.Aretha Franklin, a life in pictures

She has a fourth son, Kecalf, in 1970, with a certain Ken Cunningham, organizer of its tours. In 1977, she falls so in love with the actor Glynn Turman, much to the chagrin of his fans, to interrupt a concert at the Palais des Sports of Paris to play with him, in French, a never-ending excerpt from ” Cyrano de Bergerac “. It becomes her second husband the following year, and they settled together in California. But to their separation in 1984, the daughter of pastor Franklin returned to live in Detroit, definitely her port anchor. A way to honor the memory of his father, who died after five years of coma after being injured by burglars. She will never leave the black neighbourhood of her childhood, handing his money to the poor, and multiplying the entries volunteers shows of charity.
It also continues to occur on the most prestigious stages in the country. And if it does not sing more often in Europe, where each of his appearances is acclaimed, it is only because that plane is terrifying. “I have a program to master my fear,” she says. It comes to travel regularly to the airport, watch the planes land and take off, to go to the atm to get used to the idea of going. “Nothing to do, it doesn’t work. So, rather than travel, Aretha prepares food for his lovers and his friends, watch series sentimental on tv, goes fishing by day and dancing in clubs at night. “At home,” she says in 1992, I cook and I do laundry like any other housewife. The only thing that I do not, it is to wash the windows. “

Described as “a sex addict” by his biographer

In 2011, then she knows that she is already reached by the cancer of the pancreas who will win seven years later, Aretha announces his upcoming wedding to William Wilkerson, his companion for several years. But the ceremony, scheduled for the summer of 2012, will be cancelled : “Will and me have considered that we were a bit hasty and that there were a number of things that had not been taken seriously into consideration. “‘t confess to his penchant for the effusions of love : it requires a biographer to write the chapters of a book in which he portrayed as “a sex addict” and, when an interviewer alludes to the lasciviousness of his voice, the implied salacious of his texts or the audacity of some of his outfits (” I have worn bustiers because I have enough to fill them, ” plastronne-t-it), she pretends to be indignant : “You must have me confused with someone else. “

Read also.Aretha Franklin, the icon of the soul is deceased

Aretha Franklin, who believed in providence but not randomly, there was no more reparue on stage since November 7, 2017. It was at the annual gala of the foundation Elton John aids. His last call to the brotherhood and hope. “Freedom ! “

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