The Essential Aretha Franklin: What to Listen to Now

From 1956 to 2017, Aretha Franklin has sung her heart out, and we have loved her. She’s been making hits for throughout her career. She’s a trained pianist and more than amazing vocalist. Aretha’s genius has earned her the title “The Queen of Soul”. Fans simply say, “She is soul.” nothing describes her better.

This year, she’ll retire. She won’t sing in concert, but she’ll be recording. Her newest album “A Brand New Me” just released on November 10, 2017. It’s an extraordinary blending of Franklin’s voice with the 60 instruments of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The track list includes 14 classic songs. The tracks include masterful pairings of her original vocals with brand new symphonic accompaniments.

There’s a documentary premiered on Rhino’s official YouTube channel about the new album and its creation. The video is just seven minutes, but it gives fans a chance to see The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recording in the famous Abbey Road Studios, London. It also includes archival footage of Franklin’s performances and new interviews with James Williams, the managing director of the orchestra. Co-producers Nick Patrick and Don Reedman, and Nile Rogers discuss their ideas about the new album, the joy of working with Aretha’s beyond fabulous vocal stylings, and the challenges of creating fresh new orchestral arrangements which do justice to Aretha’s talent.

Here’s a link to the documentary:

Of course, fans will want to purchase the new album. But, why not explore Aretha’s early interpretations and compare them with the latest arrangements? Here are some links to her best performances, using the track list for the newly released album. The first 14 are on the new album, but there are a few extras for those who can’t hear enough of her magnificent voice:

1. Think

2.  Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)

3. I Say a Little Prayer

4. Until You Come Back to Me

5. A Brand New Me

6. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

7. Angel

8. Border Song (Holy Moses)

9. Let It Be

10. People Get Ready

11. Oh Me Oh My (I’m a Fool for You Baby)

12. You’re All I Need to Get By”

13. Son of a Preacher Man

14. Respect

15. Call Me

16.  Do Right Woman

17. Jump

18. Dr. Feelgood

19.  Chain of Fools

20. Nessun Dorma (Aretha fills in at the last moment when Luciano Pavarotti is ill)

What will Aretha do now that the album is released? She’s planning to record in Detroit, selecting carefully what she will sing. She’s also going to do a minimal tour with a few dates. Then, she’ll select things every so often each year. She’s got some other business plans in the works, too. But, her most important goal is to spend more time with her grandchildren because they will be leaving for college soon. She is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts; and membership in the Rock and Roll, Gospel Music, and UK Music Halls of Fame. She has had 37 Number One songs. She’s the owner of 18 Grammys. She’s recorded 112 songs, and received honorary degrees. But, family comes first….she’s an amazing woman, indeed.

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