It is doubtful that anyone would contest the authenticity of Aretha’s title as the Queen of Soul. Her ascension to the throne of musical royalty was paved smooth by the powerful reverberations of her rich voice. Most human beings have paid proper homage to the Queen’s crown in one form or another – shower solos, impersonation (the highest form of flattery) and, of course, plenty of good-old-fashioned booty-shaking. Aretha’s tunes are catchy and her voice – unmistakable. She was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; her music has won her 18 competitive Grammys and launched 10 No.1 R&B albums over the course of her career. Hers was the only voice to resonate at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. But perhaps more impressive and intriguing than Aretha’s fame and fortune, is the story behind her soul. The roots in gospel music that launched her career and the album that would change the face of gospel as it was known. Telling this story is writer and soul enthusiast, Aaron Cohen. Join Cohen tomorrow, November 4th, at Carmichael’s Bookstore for soulful tour of Aretha’s core.
Before Aretha Louise Franklin became the Queen of Soul, she was a preacher’s daughter lighting up religious solos at her father’s church in Detroit. Rubbing elbows at a young age with gospel greats such Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward (three women who would help nurture Aretha’s talent), her foundations as a gospel singer laid the groundwork for the voice that would command “Respect” from a nation. Five years after her sparkling launch into superstardom, Aretha would return to her roots and spent two days singing at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. With tape recorders and film cameras rolling, Aretha gave the performance of her life and produced a double album, Amazing Grace, which would go on to sell multi-millions of copies.
Exploring the impact and history of this 1972 double platinum album, is Aaron Cohen. Simply titled Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, Cohen’s book is a recent release in the popular 33 1/3 series. Amazing Grace revisits Aretha’s landmark recording and examines the transformative album through the lens of new interviews, musical and theological analyses and archival discoveries. Cohen, an associate editor for DownBeat magazine, sets the scene, traces the album’s inventive mix of traditional gospel and pop infusions and delves into the cultural and political bearing of this momentous recording by the Queen of Soul.
Don’t miss the beat. Stop by Carmichaels’ Frankfort Avenue location at 7pm and hear the soul-stirring story firsthand.
Carmichael’s Bookstore has two area locations 1295 Bardstown Road and 2720 Frankfort Avenue
For more information on this and other events, visit Carmichael’s website
Photo: Courtesy of Continuum Books website www.continuumbooks.com