21 years ago, I found my ear for music in the voice and music of Aretha Franklin. When my dad first played her for me, I was instantly captivated by the magnitude of her voice. Over the course of her 6-decades professionally singing, Aretha Franklin’s voice soared, matured, and aged like the finest of wines. Regardless of good day or bad, the soul Aretha conjured up in song was always incomparably affecting. She recorded hundreds of songs during her career, yet the average person can name just a few or a dozen, at most. Even I, who consider myself a scholar on this woman and her music, am still discovering nuances in songs more than two decades into my studies of her music.
This project is my opportunity to not only continue to dig deeper into her catalog, but also share some of what I consider to be her most striking recordings. Along the way I’ll tackle the biggest hits and touch on the stories behind them. On other days I’ll focus on some of the most obscure material where there might not be a lot to say, but there’s a whole lot to listen to and experience. There will even be a few exclusives that very few have ever had the chance to hear.
As I conceptualized and began working on this project around 2 months ago, I find myself, an avid listener, discovering things. There is so much music in Aretha’s catalog that it’s easy to get lost in it all, or to find yourself stuck in a groove of one or two songs, fixated on a vocal or instrumentation or arrangement. This is a chance for you and I to make the needle jump and explore the diverse layers to Aretha Franklin’s catalog of music.
Special thanks to those whose work has educated me, informed me, and paved the way for me on the lengthy history of Aretha’s musical career, specifically David Nathan and his numerous liner notes and pieces on Aretha, David Ritz for his in-depth work on both Aretha’s autobiography and his own biography of her, Mark Bego, Aaron Cohen and his immense work researching Amazing Grace, and Mark Dobkin and his work exploring I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Love You).
Sit back, grab a good pair of headphones, and enjoy the next 365 days of Aretha Franklin.