Report: Aretha Franklin "gravely ill"

August 16 Update: Aretha Franklin has died. -- See our article

 

(August 13, 2018) WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit has reported this morning that the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, is gravely ill, and that her family is asking for prayers. The news was reported by morning anchor Evron Cassimy, who had spoken to Franklin’s family members. Franklin has battled undisclosed illnesses on and off for several years, and last year announced her retirement from live performing. Several reports indicate that she is in hospice care in her Detroit area home.

August 16 Update: Aretha Franklin has died. -- See our article

 

(August 13, 2018) WDIV Channel 4 in Detroit has reported this morning that the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, is gravely ill, and that her family is asking for prayers. The news was reported by morning anchor Evron Cassimy, who had spoken to Franklin’s family members. Franklin has battled undisclosed illnesses on and off for several years, and last year announced her retirement from live performing. Several reports indicate that she is in hospice care in her Detroit area home.

Ms. Franklin’s musical legacy is quite simply, peerless. From her teen years as the daughter of the nationally revered Reverend C.L. Franklin, touring the highways and byways of the gospel circuit thrilling audiences with her God-given gift to her early days as a recording artist with Columbia Records - where she was a remarkable interpreter of a whole range of musical styles from jazz, pop, R&B, Broadway and standards - the Memphis-born, Detroit-raised icon has always added her own unique stamp to a unparalleled diversity of music. 

Signed to Columbia Records in 1960, Aretha recorded a diverse string of a half dozen albums for that label that focused more on her talent as a song stylist, with largely jazzy arrangements. But, while many of those recordings are now cherished by music lovers, at the time they failed to propel her career to the level at which her talented warranted.

After a half dozen albums on Columbia, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records in the mid-60s, and she never looked back. Aretha's artistry came to international attention via a non-stop run of now-classic hits. "Respect," "Think," "A Natural Woman,"  "Chain Of Fools," "Until You Come Back To Me" and so many other songs helped shape the music of a generation along with repertoire highlights like her own "Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business)," "You Send Me," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and "I Say A Little Prayer." 

In 1980, Aretha began her association with Arista Records and the hits continued: "Freeway Of Love," "Who's Zoomin' Who," "Jump To It" (produced by musical pal and friend Luther Vandross), "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me," (a duet with George Michael) and "Willing To Forgive" were just some of the tracks on the 1994 platinum album, "Greatest Hits (1990-1994)." 

Always attuned to current music and yet always maintaining her own musical integrity, Aretha worked with '90s hitmaker Lauryn Hill on her best-sellng "A Rose Is Still A Rose" set alongside hit producers P. Diddy, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, Daryl Simmons and others; the result - which included her own "The Woman" hailed as "arguably her most soulful performance in years' by All Music Guide - was one of Aretha's best-selling albums, spurred by the response to the title cut, a gold-selling Top 5 R&B and Top 30 pop single. 

As the new century arose, Aretha continued to record and perform, and her gravitas continued to grow to an almost singular level. Even as health forced her to slow down, each performance she gave – including forays into opera, and even an iconic performance at President Obama’s inauguration – were cherished as lifetime memories by her listeners.

We and all of our readers at SoulTracks will be praying for a full recovery for this once in a lifetime artist.

By Chris Rizik (with thanks to David Nathan)

 

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