This past year, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Aretha Franklin at number
one in their Greatest Singers of All Time issue. Aretha holds the
distinction of winning multiple Grammy Awards with 45 Billboard Hot 100
Franklin will perform in Washington at the January 20th
swearing-in ceremony of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. The "Queen
of Soul" joined VOA for a rare look at one of music's true icons.
Franklin earned "respect" and the first of her Grammys with a cover
version of the Otis Redding song "Respect."
How does Franklin define
the term "diva"?
"Diva… one who is very grand," she said. "One who has
major credentials … who at times has been called difficult."
"Blues Brothers" film, Franklin played a sassy waitress married to the
band's guitar player.
For most of the past 40 years, however, she has
been known as the "Queen of Soul."
"Chicago at the Regal Theater… it was
at that time that Barry (Gordy) was just launching Motown (Records),
and some of the artists that performed there with me at that time were
The Contours, The Marvelettes, and The Temptations," she recalls."We
were all only about 17 or 18 years-old, but we were all coming along
together. The gentleman that produced those shows, Pervis Span, they
used to call him 'Pervis Span The Blues Man'… (of) radio station WVON
out of Chicago is the one who brought the crown on stage one
Aretha owes part of her success and longevity to the way
record companies worked to develop artists when she was starting her
career. "I really do like the way that I came along. Little by little,
and I wasn't thrust into something before I could learn what it was I
was doing … learn and hone my craft," she said. "Slowly learn(ing) this
industry without being shot right out in to the stratosphere … you are
a star, you are a superstar."
Aretha has just released her first-ever
Christmas CD. She explains why it took so long.
"The Chairman of the
Board, Jerry Wexler, at Atlantic (Records) and Clive Davis at J and
Arista (Records) just never thought that a Christmas album was that
important, and I always did … so now is the time to do it.I am just
thrilled with it (Christmas CD) … just thrilled with it.I had to do the
traditional things like 'Silent Night', and 'Angels We Have Heard On
High.' That is one of my favorites… that is my favorite," she states.
rough flight on a small plane 25 years ago caused the singer to stop
flying.She has plans to try it again, and is hoping to be able to tour
Europe again soon… maybe by next Christmas.
Some video courtesy of DMI Music, GQ Media