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Aretha Franklin

Rated among the most celebrated artists of our time, Aretha is unique, not only for the power of her voice and passion of her music, but her ability to stay absolutely contemporary. A ROSE IS STILL A ROSE teams Aretha with today's hottest producers Puffy Combs, Lauryn Hill of the Fugees, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, Daryl Simmons, Michael Powell, Michael Narada Walden and the results are dynamic, a smooth synthesis of classic soul and cutting-edge pop. At the same time, A ROSE IS STILL A ROSE reflects the wisdom and wit of someone who has lived the life of her songs. This is Aretha at the top of her game, singing with the emotional intensity that turned her into an international superstar.

She is a living legend, "Lady Soul", a natural woman who has inspired and influenced countless female vocalists the world over. The first female performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the winner of fifteen Grammy Awards, the recipient of the Grammy Legend Award in 1991, honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and countless other citations, awards and accolades, Aretha Franklin's career continues to gain momentum. One of the privileged few entertainers recognizable by first name only, she is Aretha, the undisputed, fully qualified.

While Aretha's golden decade-plus of hits for Atlantic Records (1967-1979) established her as a superstar, her thirteen-year association with Arista Records has taken Aretha to new heights of international fame. The nine soul-filled albums she's recorded for the label have spawned close to thirty hit singles including across-the-board classics like "Freeway of Love", "Who's Zoomin' Who", and "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", her 1987 duet with George Michael.

Many if the highlights of Aretha's Arista years can be found on Greatest Hits (1980-1994) and as a testament to the continuing success she's had with the label, the collection includes three sizzling new tracks that team Aretha with some of today's hottest producers.

From the pen of master hitmaker Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds comes "Honey", an earthy-slow jam that has all the makings of an Aretha classic, and "Willing to Forgive" co-written with Daryl Simmons), another ballad that is sure to please the many music lovers who look to Aretha for the tell-it- like-it-is kind of honesty that has long been her soulful trademark. Both tunes were produced by LaFace Inc. while the third new recording from the Queen is her own pulsating version of the dance classic "A Deeper Love" , written and produced by the song's originators, Robert Clivilles and David Cole of C+C Music Factory and featured in the 1993 hit movie "Sister Act 2:Back In The Habit"

Aretha's latest recordings add further luster to the multi-talented entertainer's glory-filled decade -plus with Arista, an association that kicked off in 1980. Prior to that, the Memphis-born, Detroit -raised daughter of the renowned minister the Reverend C.I. Franklin who featured Aretha as a soloist on his many nationwide tours and at the New Bethel Baptist Church, had begun her secular recording career with Columbia Records in the early 1960's. In all., Aretha cut ten albums for the label during her six-year tenure including: ARETHA, UNFORGETTABLE: A TRIBUTE TO DINAH WASHINGTON, RUNNIN' OUT OF FOOLS, YEAH!!!, SOULD SISTER, TAKE IT IKE YOU GGIVE IT and SOFT AND BEAUTIFUL. Aretha enjoyed limited chart success with singles like "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody", "Try A Little Tenderness", "Runnin' Out Of Fools" and "Sweet Bitter Love", re-recorded for her 1985 hit album "Who's Zoomin' Who". In 1966, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records and by the spring of 1967 she was enjoying the first of seventeen #1 R&B hits, many of which became pop classics including "Respect", "Baby I Love You", "Chain of Fools", "Since You've Been Gone", "Think", "Call Me", "Rock Steady", "Angel", and "Until You Come Back to Me".

Working with producer Jerry Wexler, arranger/producer Arif Mardin, and engineer/producer Tom Dowd, Aretha's name became synonymous with the word "soul". Domestic and international fame came thanks to non-stop tours that took Aretha across the globe and established her as the music world's preeminent female R&B vocalist. She achieved unprecedented acclaim via nineteen albums for Atlantic Records including: I NEVER LOVED A MAN (THE WAY I LOVE YOU), ARETHA ARRIVES, ARETHA NOW, ARETHA IN PARIS, SPIRIT IN THE DARK, GIFTED AND BLACK, AMAZING GRACE, SPARKLE, SWEET PASSION, ALMIGHTY FIRE, and LA DIVA. In addition to working with in-house Atlantic producers, Aretha also recorded with Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Lamont Dozier and the late Van McCoy during her tenure with the company.

Switching to Arista Records in 1980, Aretha's self-titled debut yielded an immediate R&B smash, the soulful ballad "United Together", produced and co-written by Chuck Jackson, brother of Reverend Jesse Jackson and one-half of a team (with the late Marvin Yancy) that gave Natalie Cole a slew of mid- 70's hits. Also included on the Aretha album were covers of THE DOOBIE BROTHERS' "What A Fool Believes" and Otis Redding's "Can't Turn You Loose", both produced by Arif Mardin and a pair of Aretha's own songs "Together Again" , and "School Days".

In 1981, Arista released "Love All the Hurt Away" with production by Mardin, with Aretha co-producing two cuts. Aside from the titled track, a Top-10 R&B hit with George Benson, the album also featured versions of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Alway Get What You Want", Diana Ross' "It's My Turn" and Aretha's sizzling reading of Sam & Dave's "Hold On (I'm Comin')" which garnered Aretha her eleventh Grammy Award.

In a masterful stroke, Arista President Clive Davis, who has been personally involved with Aretha's career since she joined the label, paired Aretha with Luther Vandross who was quoted in ROLLING STONE as saying that one of his dreams was to produce Aretha.

The collaboration between Aretha and Luther resulted in a #1 r&b and top pop smash: an infectious dance-flavored ditty "Jump To It" - the summer record of 1982 - and helped make the Jump To It album Aretha's first Gold LP for Arista, bringing her total of gold records to eight. One year later, the team reunited and the result was another r&b chart-topper with the snappy "Get It Right", which also became the title track for Aretha's fourth Arista set.

Moving back to her hometown of Detroit, after a nine-year period in Los Angeles, Aretha took a year off from recording and performing after her father lapsed into a coma after being shot by burglars. In July 1984 he passed away, leaving a rich legacy as one of the country's most revered preachers.

Aretha returned to the studio in 1985 with producer/writer/musician Narada Michael Walden. The chemistry was right and the musical marriage between Aretha and Narada proved magical, fresh and upbeat. "Freeway of Love", released in June 1985, became Aretha's biggest across-the-board smash in twelve years, climbing to #3 on the pop charts to become her twentieth #1 R&B hit. It also earned two Grammys: one for Aretha as Best R&B Female Vocal Performance and one for Narada and co-writer Jefrey Cohen as Best R&B Song of the Year.

The sassy title track for Aretha's fifth Arista set, "Who's Zoomin' Who?", co- written by Aretha with Narada and writer Preston Glass, became another smash hit. Months later, the "Who's Zoomin' Who?" album, a million- seller, also contained Aretha's show-stopping duet with the Eurythmics, "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves", and a fourth hit single, the rock- flavored "Another Night".

With the hit team in high gear, Aretha and Narada took their musical partnership to another level with Aretha, another hit album released toward the end of 1986, which included Aretha's stomp-down version of The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "If You Need My Love Tonight", a moving duet with Larry Graham.

While the first single, the spirited "Jimmy Lee" took the Queen back into the Top 30 and climbed to #2 on the r&b charts, it was the follow-up that was to become Aretha Franklin's first #1 pop hit since Atlantic Records released "Respect" in the summer of 1967. "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", a sizzling duet with British superstar George Michael ,was an international smash, reinforcing Aretha's unchallenged role as the "Queen of Soul".

Continuing her Arista legacy, Aretha decided to follow-up her 1972 landmark recording "Amazing Grace" with a new gospel album. Recorded at her late father's New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan where she'd spent a Sunday morning thrilling the congregation with her stirring, heartfelt performance as a soloist, "One Lord", "One Faith", "One Baptism" was released in late 1987 and included special guests Mavis Staples, Joe Ligon of The Mighty Clouds of Joy and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Working with a range of producers and penning two songs herself, "What Did You Give" and "You Can't Take Me For Granted", Aretha completed sessions for a new album in time for a summer 1991 release. the "What You See Is What You Sweat" album featured production work by Aretha, David' Conley, Michel Legrand, and Narada Michael Walden, who was responsible for Aretha's sizzling cover of Sly & The Family Stone's "Everyday People" a top 20 r&b hit.

Compiled from a series of tracks recorded at different sessions during 1988 and 1989, Aretha's eighth Arista album boasted three duets: "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" with label-mate WHITNEY HOUSTON who grew up attending many an early Aretha session with her mother Cissy, who sang on many of Aretha's Atlantic hits; "Gimme Your Love" with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown; "Through The Storm", a Top 20 hit with British music legend Elton John, and the title track for the album which also contained a new up-tempo version of Aretha's 1968 smash "Think (1989)".

Aretha's Greatest Hits (1980-1994) includes three tracks taken from this 1991 album: the Grammy-nominated "Doctor's Orders", a bouncy reunion with Luther Vandross; the poignant ballad "Ever Changing Times", a duet with Michael McDonald produced by legendary tunesmith Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager; and Aretha's spellbinding version of "I Dreamed A Dream" from the hit Broadway musical "Les Miserables", a song she performed so stunningly at President Clinton's Inauguration in January 1993.

Other career highlights have included a much acclaimed role in the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers" and a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II, while Aretha's voice has been designated a natural resource of the State of Michigan.

Away from the recording studio and the stage, Aretha refers to "the other side of the coin, where I can be seen in a non-theatrical light as a good friend, a good mother, an aunt and a sister, the woman next door. When I'm home, I cook, iron and wash as good as the next lady and I sew with the best of them, although," Aretha chuckles as only she can, "I don't do windows!"

When she's not taking care of her day-to-day, career-related activities ("I love the business aspects of the music business"), you're likely to find the Queen of Soul brushing up on her French, in the kitchen making one of her famous dishes for friends, family, and fellow entertainers, out fishing, dancing at a local Detroit niterie and, without doubt, watching her favorite soaps, "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful".

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