The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has had her share of heartache, celebration and obstacles, including her latest recovery from pancreatic cancer. She is quintessentially the personification of what “soul” would sound like manifested in a For almost fifty years, Ms. Franklin has ruled what it means to sing “soulfully” and has been the prototype of talent wrapped in spirit and body. (Let’s not forget that she is an accomplished pianist and songwriter.)
The past week has had stories and rumors about the Queen’s biopic on the big screen. Actually, a biopic on Ms. Franklin is way overdue considering how Hollywood loved Ray Charles’ biopic, and the biopics of other male stars. This is the first biopic since Lady Sings the Blues that a biopic centering on a Black female singer has been –and, no, Cadillac Records doesn’t count, and Dreamgirls was fiction.
Ms. Franklin publicly voiced her support for Halle Berry to play her in the film. According to news reports, Ms. Berry was a bit reticent at the thought of playing the legendary Franklin. Some viewed Halle’s concerns as an insult of portraying Franklin as she has appeared to the public in the later part of career –i.e., in odd fashion choices and much larger than Ms. Berry; but then again, what woman doesn’t gain weight in her later years? Others in the industry have suggested Jennifer Hudson, who’s career seems to be gaining speed after her (ahem) weight loss via Weight Watchers. Still, others think that someone with the stellar career of Ms. Franklin deserves a star of Ms. Berry’s Oscar-winning magnitude.
Audiences are eagerly awaiting a Queen of Soul biopic, and let’s just hope they don’t mess it up since films centering on Black women are so few and far between.
The news of Ms. Franklin’s film is perfect timing for other career centered news, specifically, that Columbia is records is releasing a twelve (yes, twelve!) CD set starting with songs from the start of her career in 1960 to later releases.
The 50th anniversary of Aretha Franklin‘s arrival on the popular music scene is set for a major celebration in 2011. Signed to Columbia Records by the legendary John Hammond in the spring of 1960 (soon after her 18th birthday), Aretha released her debut album, Aretha (With The Ray Bryant Combo), on February 27, 1961. Her coming of age at Columbia as a young artist in New York is one of the great stories in the annals of popular music, and set the stage for her ascendance as the Queen of Soul at Atlantic Records.
TAKE A LOOK: ARETHA FRANKLIN COMPLETE ON COLUMBIA marks the first time that Aretha’s entire Columbia output, including master takes, unissued performances, rare mono mixes and studio conversations, have been preserved in one deluxe 12-disc (11 CDs + DVD) box set. The package is available for pre-order at www.arethafranklin.net in advance of its March 22, 2011, release at all physical and digital retail outlets through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. The suggested retail price for the box is $169.98.
- Aretha (with the Ray Bryant Combo) (released February 27, 1961)
- The Electrifying Aretha Franklin (1962)
- The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin (1962)
- Laughing On The Outside (1963)
- Unforgettable – A Tribute To Dinah Washington (1964)
- Runnin’ Out Of Fools (1965)
- Yeah!!! In Person With Her Quartet (in two sequences: the original 1965 album recorded live in the studio with overdubbed applause, followed by a new previously unreleased version without the overdubbed ambience)
- Tiny Sparrow: The Bobby Scott Sessions (1963)
- Take A Look: The Clyde Otis Sessions (1964)
- A Bit of Soul (the full album as it was compiled in 1965, but never released)
- The Queen In Waiting (includes Aretha’s last seven Columbia recordings which were produced by Bob Johnston, who was noted for his work during this time with Bob Dylan; the disk also features new recordings of Aretha’s songs that Columbia “sweetened” after she left the label)
- …and more!
Find out more at Aretha Franklin.net …