Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-03-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Aretha And that Seven Letter Word
by Vern Hester
2018-08-19

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


For musicologists and pop culture nerds there is a very funny inside joke in Taylor Hackford's musical bio film Ray ( 2004 ). Ray Charles ( played by Jamie Foxx ) informs his collaborators, record producer Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun, that after selling millions of records he is leaving for a far more lucrative contract with another company. Wexler and Ertegun literally have a melt down on the spot fearing that they will never find another artist with such an immense and rich talent.

The punch line of the joke was that six years later, a bewildered young woman named Aretha Franklin would walk into tiny Atlantic Records and, with the help of Wexler and Ertegun, change everything. Not just soul music, rock and roll, entertainment, or pop culture but with that first collaboration they showed how an artistic medium could impact society, define an era and change minds.

Franklin, who passed away Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, was a game changer who initially didn't know the power of her own talents.

Her first major label contract was with Columbia Records under the watchful eye of bandleader and label head Mitch Miller ( THAT Mitch Miller ) who wasted time and energy trying to squeeze her talents into a mold. Miller clearly had no idea what to do with Franklin and when her contract lapsed Wexler grabbed her. Wexler and Ertagun knew exactly what to do with her and they immediately whisked her to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and turned her loose. The first song on her first Atlantic album was a cover of Otis Redding's "Respect," and when it was released as the second single in early 1967 it soared to No. 1 and made her an instant icon.

Franklin's version of "Respect" ( Redding, who would die shortly after she recorded it said publicly that he preferred her far less restrained version ) is a song that simultaneously ignited several seemingly unrelated movements and articulated a troubling era. Much like "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones, "My Generation" by The Who, or "Like A Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan, it expressed what the mid-1960s youth of America felt and what the older generation could not grasp.

But Franklin's recording went much deeper and had a larger impact. A pampered Brit white boy from the suburbs yammering about satisfaction didn't have nearly the bite of a Black woman from Detroit who wouldn't simper or beg like the submissive Diana Ross ( who was the most popular Black female vocalist at the time ), but demanded and felt entitled to respect. The song may be about a romantic confrontation, but the fury that Franklin fueled it with spoke to feminists, African Americans, the youth, whites, gays, lesbians, men, women, the under priviledged, and the ostracized.

When the record hit in 1967 the nation was divided and confused. Assasinations, rioting, the conflict in Vietnam, the erosion of the American dream, pollution, the encroachment of urban blight all contributed and the song became a battle cry specifically for its time. That Franklin had been restrained at Columbia gave her the chance to release her talents in a fierce torrent and the charisma of her singing was almost revolutionary. It was the right talent with the right song at the right time and down through the years as more specific battles are fought ( trans rights, immigration, gun violence, education, etc. ) it's still intensely inspirational.

It is unrealistic to think that Franklin could maintain such a seismic impact a mere year after "Respect" but if anything she endured and did it better than anyone had a right to expect.

Her collaborations with Wexler continued her string of classics ( "Think," "Eleanor Rigby," "Spanish Harlem," "Angel," "Chain of Fools," "The House that Jack Built," etc. ), and every decade provided a new comeback with different collaborators ( "Jump To It" with Luther Vandross, "Who's Zoomin Who?" with Eurythmics, the Sparkle soundtrack with Curtis Mayfield, her electrifying cameo in the otherwise dim Blues Brothers movie, "I Knew You Were Waiting" with George Michael, "A Rose is Still a Rose" with Lauryn Hill ) and she was never far from the spotlight.

Her annual concerts here in Chicago—not far from her home in Detroit—made her accessible, President Obama and President Clinton insisting on her singing at their inaugurations indicates that the lady, her talents, and her recordings were a national treasure.

Related article at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Aretha-Franklin-dies-at-76/63812.html .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Renee Fleming stars in multi Tony winning musical The Light in the Piazza 2019-03-24 - CHICAGO ( March 24, 2019 )—John Berry CBE and Anthony Lilley OBE for Scenario Two are delighted to announce a new production of ...


Gay News

Ariana, Gambino, Monae part of Lollapalooza 2019-03-20 - Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots and The Strokes are among the headliners for Lollapalooza, which will take place Aug. 1-4 in ...


Gay News

Chicago Sinfonietta's "In Darkness We Rise" highlights Jewish experience March 23 2019-03-19 - CHICAGO ( February 2019 ) — For the world's most vulnerable, persecuted and troubled, even in the most sorrowful times of darkness, moments ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Filmmaker Barbara Hammer dies at 79 2019-03-17 - Pioneering experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer—whose works involved a distinctive lesbian perspective—has died of ovarian cancer, ARTNews reported. She was 79. Hammer's breakthrough film, ...


Gay News

'Night of Noise' variety show April 14 2019-03-15 - The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance will be "breaking" the Day of Silence with its third annual variety show, "Night of Noise: Onward and ...


Gay News

"Trans Art Is" Trans Day Of Visibility 2019 Launch Celebration March 31 2019-03-15 - The Chicago Therapy Collective is at is again, building platforms for Trans and QTPOC* artists to share their voices, sounds, movements, and truths ...


Gay News

'Lights, Camera, Sing!' Windy City Performing Arts to perform cinematic scores March 30 2019-03-14 - Windy City Performing Arts ( WCPA ) will hold "Lights, Camera, Sing!" on Saturday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Gannon Concert Hall ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh dies at 91 2019-03-14 - Former U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh ( D-Indiana )—a champion of women's rights and author of two amendments to the U.S. Constitution—died March 14 ...


Gay News

Ravinia announces 2019 summer lineup 2019-03-14 - HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman today announced the not-forprofit festival's complete 2019 summer lineup—more than 140 events from ...


Gay News

Ravinia Festival Experience Center, immersive-experience theater, to open 2019-03-14 - HIGHLAND PARK, IL — Ravinia Festival will open a major addition to the park, the RaviniaMusicBox Experience Center, later this summer. The new ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.