African-American History Month - "It didn’t stop me"
Aretha Franklin sings through it all. Her parents were separated, her Father an influential preacher who put her in his traveling shows, the death of her Mother when the singer was just nine. She began singing in her Father’s church and in those “gospel caravans.” She lost him to a bullet twice - he was in a coma for five years before his death from being shot in a robbery. Still, she reinvented herself from gospel vocalist to “Queen of Soul” to pop star and sometimes opera singer. From her humble beginnings, she first charted in 1961 with “Won’t Be Long” which reached the seventh spoton Billboard’s R&B chart. Fortunately it did not describe her career. Columbia let her go, however, and she landed perfectly in Atlantic’s arms. Jerry Wexler brought her to muscle Shoals, where the talents of the century - Rick Hall, Chips Moman, Spooner Oldham, King Curtis and FAME’s “Swampers” backed her on “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” (1967 R&B #1, Hot 100 #9), and Billboard topper, Grammy winner, and #5 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 songs - her re-working of Otis Redding’s “Respect” - a simple concept America was profoundly missing in regards to African-Americans in 1967, and doubly so for women. The preacher’s daughter was on her way. Throughout her career she has scored 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles. She has dealt with a number of health issues, quit smoking, fought alcoholism and rumors of cancer. In 1998 she charted with Lauryn Hill written and produced “A Rose is Still a Rose” and in 2014 put her 100th song on Billboard’s R&B charts with a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” but on this day in 1987, she was on her way to bridging a twenty year gap between Hot 100 chart toppers. “Respect” earned her the first position in 1967 and on February 21, 1987, her duet with a respectful fan - the late George Michael - made its debut on Billboard’s chart at #59, on the way to the top on April 18 of that year. Nothing stopped her.