Throwback: Aretha Franklin-A Deeper Love

Aretha Franklin covered Clivillés & Cole’s “A Deeper Love” with a backing vocal from Lisa Fischer after they had success with it in 1991. The production duo used vocalist Deborah Cooper on More »

Media Questions Of The Week

Umm, is that Patti LaBelle in the corner? — Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 16, 2018   How did Fox News mistakenly use a photo of Patti Labelle for Aretha Franklin’s death More »

Janet Jackson Performs Made For Now With Daddy Yankee On The Tonight Show

Janet Jackson debuts her single “Made For Now” with Daddy Yankee on The Tonight Show with an entourage of dancers. It was Jackson’s first late-night TV appearance in 14 years and she More »

Music Hall Is Saddened By The Passing Of Aretha Franklin

It is with great sadness that The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts bids a fond farewell to not only one of the world’s greatest singers to ever live, but also to More »

Gamble & Huff On The Passing Of Aretha Franklin

Legendary Philadelphia International Records co-founders and R&B pioneers Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff released the following statement mourning the passing of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin: “We not only admire Aretha Franklin for More »

Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Statement On The Passing Of Aretha Franklin

Dr. Joseph Lowery Aretha Franklin

Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery issued the following statement on the passing of Aretha Franklin:

“I’m saddened to hear about the loss of our Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  Aretha is a legend.  She not only provided the soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement, Aretha’s music transcended race, nationality, and religion and helped people from all backgrounds to recognize what they had in common.  

“In addition to having an extraordinary voice, Aretha was a kind and God-fearing woman who loved her family, friends, and community. My late wife and I were honored to have the icon come to Atlanta to sing for two benefit concerts for the Lowery Institute. I  remember her singing her heart out for my 88th birthday celebration.  We will miss her strong voice and infectious spirit, but songs like RESPECT and Say A Little Prayer will continue to keep our nation focused on achieving the dream her father, Rev.  C. L. Franklin and others in the movement envisioned.

“On behalf of the Lowery family, we send our deepest condolences to the Franklin family.”
Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

R.I.P. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin died today at age 76 after an eight-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. Franklin’s publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said in a statement the iconic singer passed away at 9:50 AM ET surrounded by family at her home. In her five decades as the Queen of Soul she helped pioneer the genre, won 18 Grammies, was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and had her voice declared a national treasure. Her reworking of Otis Redding’s “Respect’ is considered one of the songs to exemplify the Civil Rights Movement. She had the most Billboard entries (73) for a woman until 2017 and had over 52 top 10 hits on the Hot R&B Sides chart now known as Hot R&B Hip-Hop Songs. Her commercial achievements matched her cultural relevance through the years. She sang at some of the most important events of the 20th and 21st century including  Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, and inauguration festivities for Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Franklin’s gospel-rooted soul became synonymous with America, a home-grown creation admired and emulated around the world. A peerless singer and outstanding piano player, Franklin’s influence extended through the generations with Lauryn Hill penning “A Rose Is Still A Rose” for her in 1998. 

Franklin’s career started when she was a youngster singing in her father’s church. The Reverend C.L. Franklin was famous for being one of the first ministers to utilize radio broadcasts. His relationships with gospel singers Clara Ward, Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke had a huge influence on Aretha Franklin’s development as an artist. Her first album was a gospel one on an independent but by 1960 she was signed to Columbia where she recorded a string of successful pop and R&B hits. It is her time with Atlantic Records in the late ’60s when she made her legend as the Queen of Soul with songs like “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” “Chain Of Fools” and “Ain’t No Way.” 

In the ’70s, she asserted her power with the release of Amazing Grace which is the biggest selling live gospel album of all time and secular singles “Spanish Harlem,” Day Dreaming” and “Rock Steady.” It was during the ’70s that Franklin offered to post bail for jailed activist and intellectual Angela Davis and she told Jet magazine why: 

“My daddy (Detroit’s Rev. C.L.Franklin) says I don’t know what I’m doing. Well, I respect him, of course, but I’m going to stick by my beliefs. Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people—they’ve made me financially able to have it—and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”

Franklin worked with Curtis Mayfield in 1976 on the soundtrack to the film Sparkle which put her back on the R&B and Top 40 charts. Sparkle became a cult classic and so did the soundtrack because of Mayfield and Franklin’s genius collaboration. Franklin’s career was reignited in the ’80s with new sounds and collaborators. Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller wrote “Jump To It” for her and she had more success with the singles “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Freeway Of Love” and “Jimmy Lee.” George Michael and the Eurhythmics joined Franklin for “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me” and “Sisters Are Doing For Themselves” both were successful commercially and had videos that helped Franklin smoothly transition into the age of video. She also made a famous appearance in The Blues Brothers singing “Think” in the role of a waitress and wife. The younger generation became more familiar with her after she sang the theme song to the popular TV show A Different World

She released two albums in the ’90s with A Rose Is Still A Rose becoming one of her most sold. Lauryn Hill, Sean Combs, Mary J. Blige, Jermaine Dupri, Kelly Price and Babyface worked on A Rose Is Still A Rose. The singer seemed to accomplish the impossible in 1998 when she replaced Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys and sang “Nessun Dorma” at the last minute and received international acclaim. 

Franklin continued to record in the 2000s and give memorable performances. She famously covered Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” for her Aretha Franklin Sings The Diva Classics album. Her performance at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” honoring songwriter Carole King was another noteworthy moment. In these later years, she received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Princeton, Yale and  the University of Pennsylvania. Her health issues caused her to cancel shows in recent times but she managed to give a free outdoor concert in Detroit last year. Franklin’s last studio album, A Brand New Me, which features archival vocals matched with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was released in November 2017. An all-star tribute concert for Franklin is scheduled for November 14, 2018, in New York City. 


Listen: Miguel’s Song Vote From Crazy Rich Asians Soundtrack

Miguel’s “Vote” is produced by Mark Ronson and Hudson Mohawke and will appear on the soundtrack for the film Crazy Rich Asians. The raucous sound is only mellowed out by Miguel’s soulful delivery. “Vote” comes shortly after Miguel shared “Python” and a cover of The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Porcelain.” Crazy Rich Asians, which is being recognized as the first mainstream film since 1993’s Joy Luck Club with a mainly Asian cast, opened in nationwide theaters today. 


Erykah Badu Gives Tiny Desk Concert

Erykah Badu graced NPR’s office today and gave a Tiny Desk concert. The two-song performance of “Rimshot” and “Green Eyes” incorporated a lot of jazz instrumentation giving the cozy space the vibe of a late-night club. The show revealed the brilliance of her band and their melodious cohesion. Badu’s touring calendar is busy for the rest of the year and she will perform at Afropunk Brooklyn in two weeks. 


Robert Glasper Announces Month-Long Residency At The Blue Note Jazz Club

Robert Glasper will embark on a month-long residency at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York for all of October. Several colleagues and friends including Bilal, Terrace Martin, Chris Dave, Nicholas Payton and more are performing with Glasper. He is scheduled for 48 shows over 24 nights and there will be tributes to Miles Davis and jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller who passed in 2013. The residency represents each era of Glasper’s career, the various parts of his community and the influence of his collaborators on his creative spirit. Tickets are on sale now. See the full schedule below. 

                                              Robert Glasper Blue Note Residency Lineup 

                               Showtimes 8 PM & 10:30 PM ET 

October 2-7: Robert Glasper with Chris Dave & Derrick Hodge
October 9-10: Robert Glasper: Houston Nights featuring Kendrick Scott, Michael Moreno, Burniss Travis & Walter Smith
October 11-14: TO BE ANNOUNCED
October 16-17: Robert Glasper with Christian McBride & Nicholas Payton
October 18-21: Robert Glasper: Miles Davis Tribute “Everything’s Beautiful” with Bilal
October 23-24: Robert Glasper: Mulgrew Miller Tribute featuring Derrick Hodge & Rodney Green
October 25-28: Robert Glasper: R+R=NOW featuring Terrace Martin, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin & Justin Tyson