978-0-7567-5300-9 / 0756753007

Aretha: From These Roots

by Franklin, Aretha

Publisher:Diane Pub Co



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About the book:

Unlike the soul-baring performances that have drawn listeners to her for four decades, Aretha Franklin is a bit cagey when it comes to discussing her personal life in her autobiography, From These Roots. The famously press-shy Aretha is a free-speaking anecdote spinner and a blunt sharer of opinions of coworkers and fellow artists. (Don't get her started on Natalie Cole.) But some areas remain blurry; for instance, her troubled first marriage to a temperamental music-business figure named Ted White is covered in only a tiny handful of pages. Other happier memories of lovers and of her late father, the famed minister Rev. C.L. Franklin, find her in a more expansive mood. Most consistently indelible in this telling, though, is her musical story. Born in 1942, she grew up around some of the century's greatest singers--Clara Ward, Dinah Washington, and Sam Cooke were all family friends. A voice that many consider the world's finest, a strikingly individual touch on piano, and an eclectic ear for material combined to make her a notable artist who moved quickly from the gospel circuit to Columbia Records and moderate success in a variety of contexts, from show tunes to a gritty tribute to Washington. Her reminiscences of those days, and of the conquests that followed when she moved to the forefront of the soul revolution after signing to Atlantic, are obviously still fresh for her. A formidable presence even in her 20s, Aretha continues to be a daunting figure. While From These Roots isn't as splashy a triumph as her 1967 Atlantic debut or her house-rocking at the 1998 Grammys with a rendition of Puccini's "Nessun dorma," the book does make for an irresistible reflection on a singular woman and her art. --Rickey Wright

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