Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Rise to Fame.

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 second part of the Aretha Franklin story and you can catch up with Part One

Aretha Franklin – The Rise to Fame

Aretha Franklin: 30 Greatest Hits

After turning 18, Franklin confided to her father that she aspired to follow Sam Cooke to record pop music. Serving as her manager, C. L. agreed to the move and helped to produce a two-song demo that soon was brought to the attention of Columbia Records, who agreed to sign her in 1960.

Franklin was signed as a “five-percent artist.” During this period, Franklin would be coached by choreographer Cholly Atkins to prepare for her pop performances. Before signing with Columbia, Sam Cooke tried to persuade Franklin’s father to have his label, RCA sign Franklin. He had also been courted by local record label owner Berry Gordy to sign Franklin and her elder sister Erma to his Tamla label. Franklin’s father felt the label was not established enough yet.

“Today I Sing the Blues,” written by Curtis Lewis, reached #10 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1960. The song appeared on her 1961 album, “Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo.” The song was produced by John Hammond. Franklin re-recorded the song in 1969 on the album “Soul ‘69 and it reached #101 on the US pop chart. It also charted on the Cash Box Top 100 chart. The composer, Curtis Lewis, subsequently became one of the first black composers and lyricists to own a music publishing company on Broadway in the early 1950s.

“Won’t Be Long” is the first song by Aretha Franklin to reach Billboard’s Hot 100. Written by J. Leslie McFarland and produced by John Hammond. “Won’t Be Long” peaked at #7 on the US R&B chart and #76 on Billboard’s Hot 100. This wantonly exuberant and bluesy song appeared on her 1961 album, “Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo.” Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s recordings, produced by Clyde Otis, began to display her talent at crossing into diverse genres such as the popular standards, jazz and rhythm and blues. She achieved her first top 40 single with the standard, “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody,” which also included the R&B hit, “Operation Heartbreak,” on its b-side.This was also to become her first International hit in both Australia and Canada and Aretha Franklin was named a “new-star female vocalist” in “Down Beat” magazine. In 1962, Columbia issued two more albums, “The Electrifying Aretha Franklin” and “The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin,”the latter of which charted number 69 on the Billboard Pop LPs chart.

“Runnin’ Out of Fools,” penned by Kay Rogers and Richard Ahlert, is Franklin’s seventh studio album. It was arranged and conducted by Belford Hendricks, who is primarily remembered as the co-composer of numerous soft-R&B songs of the 1950s. His versatility allowed him to write in various styles, from big band swing for Count Basie, through blues ballads for Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, and country and western songs for Nat King Cole. “Runnin’ Out of Fools” peaked at #57 on Billboard’s Hot 100, staying for a period of 10 weeks.

By the mid 60s, Aretha Franklin was headlining at top nightclubs and theaters with subsequent rise in her earnings. She also appeared on rock ‘n’ roll shows such as “Shindig” but it was felt, including at high levels within the Columbia organisation that her full potential was not being exploited, especially in her early gospel success.

In November 1966, choosing not to renew her Columbia contract after six years with the company, Franklin signed with Atlantic Records.

“I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” is Franklin’s eleventh studio album.
Released on March 10, 1967 by Atlantic Records, It went to number 2 on the Billboard album chart and number 1 on the magazine’s Top R&B Selling chart. It was certified Gold in 1967. It received a number 83 ranking on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and inclusion in both the “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” (2005) and “1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die,” (2008). The album included two top-10 singles: “Respect” was a #1 single on Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop singles chart, and “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” peaked at number 9. The album was rated the 10th best album of the 1960s by “Pitchfork.”

“Respect” is a song written and originally released by Otis Redding in 1965. The song became a 1967 hit and signature song for Aretha Franklin. The music in the two versions is significantly different, and through a few changes in the lyrics, the stories told by the songs have a different flavor. Redding’s version is a plea from a desperate man, who will give his woman anything she wants. He won’t care if she does him wrong, as long as he gets his due respect when he brings money home. However, Franklin’s version is a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who knows that she has everything her man wants. She never does him wrong, and demands his “respect.” Franklin’s version adds the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” chorus and the backup singers’ refrain of “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me…”

Franklin’s cover was a landmark for the feminist movement, and is often considered as one of the best songs of the R&B era, earning her two Grammy Awards in 1968 for “Best Rhythm & Blues Recording” and “Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female”, and was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored Franklin’s version by adding it to the National Recording Registry. It was placed number five on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” It was also included in the list of “Songs of the Century,” by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Franklin included a live recording on the album “Aretha in Paris” 1968.

“Ain’t No Way” is a song written by singer-songwriter Carolyn Franklin, Aretha’s elder sister, as the B-side to her 1968 hit “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone.” Aretha recorded the song and released it on her acclaimed “Lady Soul” album.

The song peaked at #16 on the “Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Hot R&B Singles Chart in 1968. Carolyn and members of the Sweet Inspirations performed backing vocals on the track. The Sweet Inspirations’ founder Cissy Houston showcased her operatic like upper range during Franklin’s bridges and the ending of the track.
In 1983, Whitney Houston made her world debut on “Merv Griffin Show Show” singing the tune with mother Cissy Houston.

Christina Aguilera performed the song to great acclaim in a tribute to Aretha during the 53rd Grammy Awards.

Franklin’s chart dominance soon earned her the title “Queen of Soul,” while at the same time she also became a symbol of black empowerment during the civil rights movement of the time. Franklin was enlisted to perform at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during which she paid tribute to her father’s fallen friend with a heartfelt rendition of “Precious Lord.”

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.


50 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column 2022 – William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Rise to Fame.

  1. So much talent. My fellow teachers and I liked to do some kind of performance for the kids at our school’s talent show. Quite naturally, one year, we did Respect by Aretha.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a voice! The information about the two versions of Respect was new to me and a fascinating glimpse into changing social opinion. Many thanks for this series! Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – May 23rd -29th – Crows, Aretha Franklin, Chart Hits 1995, Curacao, Manganese, stories, reviews, health and humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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