From 1987-2000, I spent 14 years in the Motor City, Motown. The place where the Gordy family founded a wave that changed music around the world. The Motown museum on West Grand Blvd became known as Hitsville U.S.A. was Motown's first headquarters. I learned about...
The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas BUT One of the most LEGENDARY of artists from Detroit Aretha Franklin NVER recorded for Motown Records. At SIX years old, little Ree as she was know impressed Motown artist Smokey Robinson but her biography tells the full story.
"A few men in town were launching a new recording company called Motown. (...) Aretha, at age fifteen, wanted to record for the new company. But her father disliked the idea of her getting into the music business when she was so young. He let her play as a pianist to accompany her elder sister Erma, who started rehearsing in a Motown studio. Erma wanted to be a jazz singer, however, and so she never actually made a recording for Motown. Neither did Aretha. "All the children were very much under the influence of their father", recalls Teddy Harris, the Detroit pianist who would work as one of Aretha's long-term accompanists. The Franklin children didn't generally defy Rev. C.L. Franklin".
So many hits. Aretha Franklin made famous. Chain Of Fools, I Say A Little Prayer, Respect, I Never Loved A Man, A Natural Woman and on and on.
I mentioned I spent many years on the radio in Detroit. In an interview Stevie Wonder talked about Gospel and R & B music and compared it to Country music. I was particularly interested in his comments myself jumping from an Urban pop station where I did the morning show to Detroit's W4 Country as the afternoon host in 1994. Stevie said Gospel and Country are much the same because when done well they're both from the heart, tell a story and come from an authentic place. Aretha Franklin was synonymous with music.
Today Ms. Franklin is in bad shape and her family is by her side and in a lot of fans prayers.