Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul

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by Mark Bego
     
 

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A frank examination of Aretha Franklin, Mark Bego’s definitive biography traces her career accomplishments from her beginnings as a twelve-year-old member of a church choir in the early 1950s, to recording her first album at the age of fourteen and signing a major recording contract at eighteen, right up through her headline-grabbing 2010 health scare.… See more details below

Overview



A frank examination of Aretha Franklin, Mark Bego’s definitive biography traces her career accomplishments from her beginnings as a twelve-year-old member of a church choir in the early 1950s, to recording her first album at the age of fourteen and signing a major recording contract at eighteen, right up through her headline-grabbing 2010 health scare. Originally positioned to become a gospel star in her father’s Detroit church, Aretha had a privileged urban upbringing—stars such as Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, and Sam Cooke regularly visited her father, Rev. C. L. Franklin. It wasn’t long before she was creating a string of hits, from “Respect” to “Freeway of Love,” and becoming one of the most beloved singers of the twentieth century. 

This New York Times bestselling author’s detailed research includes in-person interviews with record producers Jerry Wexler, Clyde Otis, and Clive Davis, Aretha’s first husband, several of her singing star contemporaries, and a rare one-on-one session with Aretha herself. Every album, every accolade, and every heart-breaking personal drama is examined with clarity and neutrality, allowing Franklin’s colorful story to unfold on its own. With two teenage pregnancies and an abusive first marriage, drinking problems, battles with her weight, the murder of her father, and tabloid wars, Aretha’s life has been a roller coaster. This freshly updated and expanded biography will give readers a clear understanding of what made Aretha Franklin the “Queen of Soul.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pop/soul singer Franklin refuses to discuss publicly her private life. ``There are few singing stars who could get away with such a small degree of personal exposure and still retain their popularity,'' notes Bego ( Linda Gray ) of a woman whose pain and passion can be heard in songs that have earned her 14 Grammys in a career spanning three decades. Unfortunately, the author's interviews here with those close to the performer, such as Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler and Arista Records president Clive Davis, are so unrevealing that he focuses on Franklin's music rather than her personality, offering a discography and album-by-album analysis. There is a detailed discussion of Franklin's career, which began in Detroit in the 1950s when she sang gospel music in church, then progressed to jazz, blues and later soul and pop music styles. Readers will learn more about the ``queen'' in her recordings than in these pages. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Bego's detail-laden effort could well stand as the definitive reading of the Queen of Soul's life and career, barring an objective account by Her Majesty herself. But while certainly interesting, Aretha's life does not lend itself to the in-print excitement that, say, a Jerry Lee Lewis or a Keith Moon might inspire. Indeed, so much of Franklin's life is shrouded by a veil of privacy that it was a real challenge for Bego to unearth as much as he did. Although he obviously reveres his subject, he nevertheless displays a good reporter's fearlessness in revealing less-than-complimentary aspects of Franklin's life. He occasionally gets bogged down with minutiae (especially when writing about recording sessions), but his overall performance is good. Recommended for popular music collections.-- David M. Turkalo, Social Law Lib., Boston
Publishers Weekly
In this unauthorized biography, Bego (who has written books on Michael Jackson and Elton John, among many others) expands his previous books, published in 1989 and 2001, about dynamic vocalist Franklin. For this third book, Bego includes all of the earlier editions, adding “over one dozen Aretha Franklin stories and two new chapters in order to bring the story all the way up to 2012.” Those 53 pages tacked on at the end are followed by a “new and improved” reconstructed discography. Here are the highs (singing at the Clinton White House, being a 1994 Kennedy Center Honoree, winning 20 Grammy Awards, performing at Obama’s inauguration) and the lows: teen pregnancies, her stormy first marriage, canceled engagements, lawsuits, drinking and weight problems, the fire at her .8 million home. Bego writes with enthusiasm and manages to juggle “conflicting information,” but since Franklin prefers privacy, he’s unable to get the inside information that would have captured the soul of this legendary soul singer. (Apr.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620871690
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date:
03/25/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
849,436
File size:
7 MB

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