Some Queen of Soul-related interviews & news items
I don’t know about you—but this time of year always seems like a time warp. I spent last week with my family-in-love in Columbus and those four days felt like one day! I came home and tried to jump right back into work and failed miserably—but I’m finding the rhythm again. I hope all of you had a safe and peaceful time.
Since the last newsletter, I’ve completed the first draft of Chapter One for the New York Community Choir book and have moved on to a second chapter. The exciting thing is that even as I work, more people who are a part of the story have emerged, so I’m still doing interviews as I write. The synergy is present, the muse is speaking.
I wanted to share a few items related to the Queen of Soul in this edition of God’s Music Is My Life. She actually came up as I was writing the book—one of the key players was privy to seeing her perform at her father’s church in Detroit in the 60s. As I was writing about that, I saw the 365 Days of Aretha Twitter post that last week marked the 48th anniversary of one of my favorite Aretha albums: 1974’s With Everything I Feel In Me.
This may not be an Aretha album you’re familiar with—it was not critically-acclaimed nor did it score any significant charting hits—but it has some gems like “Without Love,” the title track, “You Move Me” and, my favorite, the James Cleveland-composed “All of These Things.” Hopefully, the estate will facilitate a digital re-release of the album soon and very soon.
I also highly recommend following the 365 Days of Aretha Twitter and Facebook accounts. They are run by Andrew Martone, a bright, young scholar who is writing the 365 Days of Aretha blog which takes deep dives into songs from the Queen’s catalog. It is a continuing project that any Aretha lover will enjoy thoroughly. I interviewed Andrew for SoulMusic.com a few months ago and asked about the genesis of his love for Ms. Franklin and the work that he is doing to bring a deeper awareness of her history and genius. You can read that article here.
As I mention in the GoFundMe video for the New York Community Choir book, I’ve been attempting to obtain an FBI file on one of my subjects under the Freedom of Information Act (without success!). I was on Twitter searching for conversations about such FOI requests and just happened to have been searching the day that journalist Jenn Dize posted about obtaining the Queen of Soul’s file after years of trying. This article is a fascinating look at the government’s surveillance of the Queen of Soul that spanned decades. You can read here. Thank you Jenn for your perseverance.
Finally, I wanted to share this wonderful interview that soul music historian David Nathan did with Brenda Corbett, the Queen of Soul’s cousin and long-time background singer. The talk in depth about her years of travelling and working with Aretha. This is one you do not want to miss!
Until next week—keep the faith!