August 16, 2018


Only Aretha Franklin had the soul power to summon the spirit at will (Dominic Green, August 16, 2018, Spectator USA)

Aretha Franklin, who died this morning at the age of 76, was called the Queen of Soul. But she did not inherit her crown, so much as create it. Nor, though she inspired plenty of oversold and over-souled pretenders, did she ever have a plausible heir. She wove that crown from the music of the black church, the blues and Broadway, from faith, pain and love. No one else could touch her, and she will meet her maker still wearing it.

Aretha -- the voice was so distinctive that her surname seemed superfluous -- was simply the finest popular singer of her generation. Unlike every other pop star of the Sixties and Seventies, she would have been among the finest of the previous generations, too. Her only peer for placing the note just where it hurt was Billie Holiday, but Aretha also had the power of Big Mama Thornton. Her only peer in sheer swinging joy was Ella Fitzgerald, but Aretha was stronger on the high notes.

She was born in 1942, and into the business of soul. [...]

The crowning glory was her 1971 gospel album, Amazing Grace, with full choir, a rhythm section of Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie (drums), Chuck Rianey (bass) and Cornell Dupree (guitar), a delirious audience at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, and Aretha on incandescent form. There never was a pop records like it. Perhaps it is not a pop record at all, but a spiritual testimony of black American music; and perhaps that is what Soul music was, when it stayed close to the church.

Posted by at August 16, 2018 1:15 PM