"Aretha was private. I respected this and she trusted me." Linda Solomon met Aretha Franklin in 1983 when she was just beginning her career as a photojournalist and newspaper columnist. Franklin's brother and business manager arranged for Solomon to capture the singer's major career events—just as she was coming back home to Detroit from California—while Franklin requested that Solomon document everything else. Everything. And she did just that. What developed over these years of photographing birthday and Christmas parties in her home, annual celebrity galas, private backstage moments during national awards ceremonies, photo shoots with the iconic pink Cadillac, and more was a friendship between two women who grew to enjoy and respect one another.
The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, An Intimate Portrait is a book full of firsts as Solomon was invited not only to capture historical events in Aretha's music career showcasing Detroit but to join in with the Franklin family's most intimate and cherished moments in her beloved hometown. From performance rehearsals with James Brown to off-camera shenanigans while filming a music video with the Rolling Stones, from her first television special to her first time performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, to her last performance with her sisters at her father's church and her son's college graduation celebration. In the book's afterword, Sabrina Vonne' Owens, Franklin's niece, honors her aunt, a woman who was an overwhelming supporter of civil rights, women's rights, and fundraising campaigns that helped to benefit her hometown. There was a time in her career—when Franklin was more in demand than ever before—when she insisted that if someone wanted her to perform, they had to come to Detroit. During this time all of her major concerts, national television specials, music videos, and commercials would happen in Detroit. Aretha Franklin showed her respect for the people in the city who championed her from the very beginning when she started singing as a young girl in the church choir.
Franklin used to say, "I am the lady next door when I am not on stage." The Queen Next Door offers fans a personal and unseen look at an extraordinary woman in her most natural moments—both regal and intimate—and highlights her devotion to her family and her hometown Detroit—"forever and ever."
About the Author
What People are Saying About This
Linda Solomon is a Michigan treasure. She photographs celebrities and friends with equal enthusiasm, all the while devoting much of her time teaching others to enjoy the profession she loves.
Aretha Franklin trusted very few journalists—a handful of us were lucky enough to be in that number, and that includes Detroit-based photojournalist Linda Solomon. You can see in the Queen of Soul's soft, unguarded expressions in Linda's photographs in The Queen Next Door that she was at ease with her. Linda had unprecedented access, but she didn't overwhelm Aretha with a barrage of shots, instead capturing sensitive, evocative photos of a woman with the mystique of an icon, who was also the down-home woman 'next door.' This trove of beautiful images is a must for fans of the Queen.
No one but Linda Solomon could have captured in moving words and photographs the real Queen, the Aretha Franklin who was sister-mama-daughter-friend, the woman who was larger-than-life star in her career, but down-to-earth Detroiter at home. Linda has given those who loved Ms. Franklin an intimate and needed tour of life off the stage.