Sunday, March 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Aretha!

Excuse me, Ms. Franklin. There's really nothing I can say about Aretha Franklin that hasn't been said a thousand times before. Quite simply, Aretha is the greatest female voice in all soul music and possibly in all music. Whether it be soul, blues, pop, gospel or even opera Aretha can do it all and she continues to be the measuring stick to which ALL female vocalists aspire. Aretha is a national treasure whose voice can literally give me chills (an effect that usually only happens while B.B. King holds that right note on Lucille). I can attest, seeing Aretha live just last year, that while 40+ years of smoking and life have added a little gravel and thickness to her tone, at 65 she still has the power to bring down the house. Happy Birthday, Lady Soul! Long live The Queen!

Aretha Franklin: Precious Lord, Take My Hand/You've Got A Friend

Aretha's started, like many, singing in the church and she never abandoned her gospel roots. In 1972 she released her unbelievable double album Amazing Grace. Recorded with James Cleveland the Southern California Community Choir it made the Top Ten, making it one of the greatest gospel-pop crossover records of all time. Here's Aretha's reworking of Carole King's You've Got A Friend. Take us to church!

Aretha Franklin: Maybe I'm a Fool

Aretha can absolutely sing the blues and thanks for asking. Recorded as one of her first singles in 1960, this song was released on the 1973 collection The Great Aretha Franklin: The First 12 Sides. Pretty powerful stuff from an 18 year old.

Aretha Franklin: Love The One You're With

Aretha also found success putting her own soulful twist on pop hits of the day. Here she covers Stephen Stills' Love The One You're With taken from her incredible 1971 set Live At Fillmore West. I could have posted any song on this album. Go buy it right now!

No warnings. No rehearsals. No Pavarotti. No Problem. Only Aretha could pull off this Grammy performance with such class. This is one of Aretha's many defining moments:

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