Over the last few weeks William Price King has taken us through the early years and career of Aretha Franklin.
From the age of fourteen to the present day Aretha Franklin has been entertaining and delighting audiences with her incredible voice. She has recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history.
She has also won prestigious awards, honorary degrees and Presidential recognition.
This legendary artist has been entertaining fans for six decades and today William shares just some of the massive hits from the 70s through to 2017.
Aretha Franklin – Up to Date.
“Amazing Grace” is the third live album that Aretha Franklin recorded. Released on June 1, 1972 by Atlantic Records, it sold over two million copies in the United States alone, earning a double platinum certification. As of 2017, it stands as the biggest selling disc of Franklin’s entire fifty-plus year recording career as well as the highest selling live gospel music album of all time. It won Franklin the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance.
The double album was recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles during January 1972.
Rolling Stone, in a review of the album wrote: “Amazing Grace is more a great Aretha Franklin album than a great gospel album. She plays havoc with the traditional styles but she sings like never before on record. The liberation and abandon she has always implied in her greatest moments are now fully and consistently achieved.” Here is a live version from 2014
“Jump To It” is the thirty-first studio album by Aretha Franklin, produced by Luther Vandross and released in the summer of 1982. This disc gave Aretha her tenth #1 R&B album – at the time it was the all-time record. It enjoyed a seven-week run at #1 on Billboard’s R&B albums chart and also reached #23 on Billboard’s main album chart. It was hailed as a comeback album, given that it provided Aretha with her first Gold-certified disc and Top 40 song since “Sparkle” in 1976. The title track, “Jump To It,” was Aretha’s first Pop Top 40 hit since 1976 and her first #1 R&B hit since 1977’s “Break It To Me Gently”. The infectious song was nominated for a Grammy Award. The album itself received an “American Music Award for Best Soul Album.
“Jump To It” was written by Vandross and Marcus Miller and features background vocals performed by Vandross and Cissy Houston. This major hit held the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart for four consecutive weeks.
“Freeway of Love” is a Grammy Award-winning hit song released as the first single from Franklin’s Platinum-certified 1985 album “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” It was produced by Narada Michael Walden. It was one of 1985’s biggest hits in the US, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and topping the Hot R&B Singles chart for five weeks. The accompanying promotional music video was filmed entirely in Detroit, Michigan and was one of the most popular videos of the year. In a remixed “rock” version, the song also topped the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.
This single became Aretha’s fifteenth Top 10 pop hit in the United States and earned her 12th Grammy Award, for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The song features a notable contribution from Clarence Clemons, the saxophonist from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Sylvester and Jeanie Tracy provided backup vocals.
“I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) is also a Grammy Award-winning number-one song recorded by Aretha Franklin and George Michael as a duet in 1987. It was written by Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan, and produced by Narada Michael Walden. It is Franklin’s biggest hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, spending several weeks at number two.
The song was a one-off project that helped Michael achieve his ambition to sing with one of his favorite artists, and it reached #1 in both the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Hot 100. The song was Franklin’s first and only UK number-one hit, and only her fourth top ten achievement in the country since “I Say a Little Prayer,” nearly two decades earlier.
“A Rose is Still a Rose” is Franklin’s thirty-seventh studio album. Released in March, 1998, it resulted in the singer’s most critically acclaimed and best-selling album of the 1990s. It was also Aretha’s first Gold-certified studio album in twelve years and received two Grammy nominations: for “Best R&B Album” and “Best R&B Song” for the title track “A Rose Is Still A Rose”. The single became a success on release, reaching #26 on the Hot 100, the forty-fifth top 40 Pop hit of Franklin’s long career. The album was issued in March 1998, a month behind Franklin’s show stopping Grammy performance. It had robust sales from the start, debuting at #30 on the Billboard 200 and #7 on the R&B chart.
“A Rose is Still a Rose” was written and produced for Aretha Franklin by Lauryn Hill. The song is feminist-based, focused on a motherly figure giving advice to a younger woman who keeps getting into bad relationships. Throughout the song, Franklin advises that in spite of everything and despite the woman’s “scorned and thorn crowns” that the woman is “still a rose.”
“Rolling in the Deep” is a song written by and originally recorded by British singer Adele for her second studio album, “21.”
In 2014, Franklin covered the song on her “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” album. It was released in September 2014 as the collection’s lead single. This version peaked at #1 on the US dance chart, giving Aretha Franklin her sixth number one on the chart. It also debuted at number 47 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Franklin thus becomes the first female, and fourth artist overall to place 100 songs on the charts (with her first entry on the chart being “Today I Sing the Blues” in 1960).
About Adele’s “21” album, Franklin explained:“I absolutely loved her CD. In addition to being a great singer, she’s a great writer, a deep, heavy writer. She doesn’t write the usual or the norm.”
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. This 1967 single was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner Jerry Wexler. As recounted in his autobiography, Wexler, a student of African-American musical culture, had been mulling over the concept of the “natural man,” when he drove by King on the streets of New York. He shouted out to her that he wanted a “natural woman” song for Aretha Franklin’s next album. In thanks, Goffin and King granted Wexler a co-writing credit.
The record was a big hit for Franklin, reaching number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and became a standard song for her. Franklin also included a live recording on the album “Aretha in Paris” in 1968. Versions have also been performed and recorded by King herself, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, and many others. At the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, Aretha Franklin performed the song to honor award-recipient Carole King.
Aretha Franklin’s final performance was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City during Elton John’s 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on November 7, 2017.
Aretha passed away on August 16th 2018 leaving behind an incredible legacy of music that will be enjoyed by generation after generation of music lovers.
Additional Information: Wikipedia
We hope you have enjoyed the final part of the Aretha Franklin story and will tune on Saturday for William’s selection of Christmas Music from around the World.
William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.
His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.
While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.
His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.
In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.
My thanks to William for the amazing artists he has brought to the blog and thank you for dropping in today. As always your feedback is very welcome.