Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Early Years

It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.

Welcome to the start of a new series of the Music Column with William Price King..with part one of the Aretha Franklin story.

Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee in March 1942 to Barbara and Clarence Franklin. At the time Clarence Franklin was a travelling preacher and her mother an accomplished pianist and vocalist. The family moved to Buffalo, New York when Aretha was still a toddler and then again two years later when her father took on the pastorship of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Michigan. Unfortunately, despite the prospects of this new permanent position Aretha’s parents separated with her mother returning to Buffalo with her brother Vaughn. Over the next few years Aretha and Barbara would visit each other in New York or Michigan, but sadly just before her tenth birthday her mother died.

This left the upbringing of the children to other members of the family, including her grandmother as her father grew to prominence within the baptist church, travelling to deliver sermons across the country. He was known as the man with the ‘million-dollar voice’ that brought in a substantial and steady income. His celebrity status attracted celebrities such as Martin Luther King and Sam Cooke to the family home.

Aretha had also been busy during this period, learning to play the piano by ear and just after her mother’s death, still only ten years old, she began to sing solos at the New Bethel church with her first solo being “Jesus, Be a Fence Around me”. At age fourteen and with her father now managing her career, she went on the road for his gospel tours across the country, performing as part of the ministry.

With her father’s influence she was signed to her first recording contract with J.V. B Records in 1956 and her first album “Songs of Faith” resulted in two singles “Never Grow Old” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ being released to gospel radio stations.

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. Here is just some of the highlights.

  • Twenty Grammy Awards including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best Gospel Performance every year from 1968 to 1975 and further awards in 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 2006 and 2009. Aretha Franklin also one three special Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
  • Three American Music Awards – Favorite Soul/R&B Album “Jump to it” in 1983, Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist in 1984 and 1986.
  • Three NAACP Awards – Hall of Fame in 1997, Vanguard Award in 2008 and Outstanding Album for “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” in 2015.
  • Some of her other honors include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as the first woman to be inducted in 1987.
  • Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, at the time the youngest recipient.
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 presented by President W. Bush
  • Induction into the Music Hall of Fame in the UK in 2005 only the second woman to be inducted.
  • In 2008, a panel of peers and musical experts convened by Rolling Stone magazine voted Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of all time.
  • Aretha was named “MusiCares Person of the Year” in 2008.
  • Induction into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012
  • In 2014, she was granted the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts from Harvard University for her contributions to music.
  • On June 8, 2017, the City of Detroit honored Franklin’s legacy by renaming a portion of Madison Street, between Brush and Witherell Streets, “Aretha Franklin Way.”

Something to keep you going until next week when we pick up the story again.

(Sweet Sweet Baby) “Since You’ve Been Gone” was a single released from Aretha Franklin’s “Lady Soul” album in 1968. It peaked at #5 in the Top 100 for five weeks and in the #1 spot for three weeks in the R&B singles chart.

Buy Aretha Franklin Music: Amazon

Official website: Aretha Franklin

Additional Information: Wikipedia

I hope you will join us again next week for another for the next post in the life and music of Aretha Franklin.

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.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


Thank you for dropping and as always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


46 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Early Years

  1. Once again i have to confess, knowing very less about also about this iconc of music. Thanks for sharing, Sally and Wiliam! By the way, there should be more Gospel choires in Germany too, and more singers would better hit the tunes. :-)) Have a great Friday! xx Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Like Michael, I knew nothing about Arethra’s early years. it must have been heartbreaking being separated from her mother and brother and then losing her when only ten. Looking forward to the next chapter – many thanks! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 16th – 22nd May 2022 – Hits 1995, Aretha Franklin, Stories, Podcast, Poetry, Guests, Reviews, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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