Cover image for Aretha : from these roots
Aretha : from these roots
Franklin, Aretha.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 254 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
ML420.F778 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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America's Queen of Soul recounts the story of her life, from her childhood as a minister's daughter in Detroit to her rise to success, offering insights into the faith and determination that have taken her to the top.

Author Notes

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942. She began singing in the choir of her father's church and soon became a star soloist. Her first studio album, Aretha, was released in 1961. She recorded albums for five decades. Some of her songs included I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You), Think, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, and Respect. She received 19 Grammy Awards including a lifetime achievement award in 1994. In 1987, she was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She died from advanced pancreatic cancer on August 16, 2018 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Queen of Soul tells the story of her life with grace and dignity, glad for the opportunity to correct erroneous assumptions about her past. Coauthor Ritz--an old hand at this genre, having written books with Ray Charles, Etta James, and B. B. King--is the perfect accompanist, allowing Franklin's speaking voice, an instrument almost as powerful as her singing voice, to flow freely. She begins with keenly detailed memories of her lively childhood. After her parents separated, she and her four siblings spent summers in Buffalo with their mother until her untimely death, then lived year-round in Detroit with their father, the famous Reverend Clarence LaVaughn Franklin. A brilliant orator, he recognized his daughter's extraordinary talents early on and never failed to support and encourage her, even after she became pregnant at age 14 and then had a second son two years later and dropped out of high school. Music and motherhood were clearly her callings, and with a circle of family friends that included Martin Luther King Jr., Art Tatum, and Berry Gordon, she didn't lack for meaningful education. Franklin vividly describes her early performances with her father, her segue into secular music, and her rise to the top, always paying tribute to her mentors, from James Cleveland to Sam Cooke. She reveals her sorrows (the 1980s were a terrible time) and candidly acknowledges her mistakes both in business and in love, but her ebullience and strength of character rule her narrative. Now 57, Franklin has added opera to her repertoire, enrolled at Juilliard, and written a soon-to-be-released cookbook. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

While the Queen of Soul's autobiography is no crowning achievement, it offers a breezy tour through the singer's life and trailblazing recording career. Raised in a musical household in Detroit (next door to Smokey Robinson, with frequent visits from Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, Dinah Washington and Rev. James Cleveland), Franklin made her solo singing debut at the age of 10 in her father's church. At 16, she gave birth to her second son, dropped out of high school and recorded her first album. Several romances and two more sons followed, as did 17 Grammies (the most for a female performer) and more than 20 number-one hits. The strength of this memoir, whose coauthor has collaborated on books by Marvin Gaye, Etta James, Smokey Robinson and Atlantic Records owner Jerry Wexler, lies in Franklin's candid discussion of her craft, song selection and various peers. She's not shy about settling old scores with those she believes have dismissed her in printÄincluding Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples and Cissy Houston. But she remains emotionally remote when talking about herself, reserving her real passion for her music. Few will finish this book, however, without an urge to add another Franklin disc to their collection. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Award-winning author and lyricist Ritz assists the "Queen of Soul" in this autobiography that proves you can be a star while still being human. Franklin takes us from being a teenage mother to traveling cross country playing the "Chitlin Circuit" to longtime stardom. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The biggest heartthrob of my teen years, though, wasn't to be found in the roller rink or the halls of Hutchins Junior High. He was to be found in church. He was a singer and a star, one of the finest brothers ever to grace New Bethel. When I first saw him, all I could do was sigh; my unspoken response as I looked back over my shoulder was, Oh my God--who is that? When I saw him and his brother L.C. coming down the aisle for that evening's program, I got happy long before the singing started. I'm talking about Sam Cooke. The Soul Stirrer It must have been around 1955 or '56. Daddy was backing the presidential candidacy of Governor Adlai Stevenson. Daddy was a staunch, lifelong Democrat, as am I. But back then, when I was a girl growing up on the North End of Detroit, politics were way over my head, while music hit me right at home. I loved the secular music played by Rocking with Leroy--Little Willie John, the Flamingos, the Moonglows, and the Spaniels. But it was at Daddy's church that another sound and sight really rocked my world. It was during one of the gospel programs at New Bethel that I was introduced to the Soul Stirrers. One Stirrer stirred me more than the rest. Some men can sing, charm, and shine; some are easy with their good looks, others radiate confidence. Sam had all of this and more--the personality of a prince and a voice to match. He was one in a million. Yet for all his abundant talent, he exuded simple humility, the sign of a great person. He treated everyone with respect. His manners were impeccable. Sam was in a class by himself. I had heard the Soul Stirrers, on record and the radio, before that evening I saw them in church. Male quartets were a major part of the golden age of gospel. The great groups like the Swan Silvertones produced great lead singers like Claude Jeter, who, along with Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds and Julius Cheeks of the Sensational Nightingales, were monuments of pure gospel power. Beyond the enormity of their voices and the mastery of their technique, the groups they led had a new and spirited style. Rather than robes, the men might wear matching green or blue or even gold suits. They had their own kind of choreographed steps. They were servants of God, to be sure, but they were also showmen. Among the great groups of gospel, the women, by contrast, wore lavishly colorful robes and sometimes dress suits, like Ruth "Baby Sister" Davis of the Davis Sisters--Jackie, Audrey, Alfreda, and Curtis Dublin--a very powerful and spirit-filled group, and Dot Love and the Gospel Harmonettes, whom I particularly liked. I also considered Jackie Verdell of the Davis Sisters one of the best and most underrated female soul singers of all time. It was through Jackie that I learned the expression "Girl, you peed tonight"--meaning you were dynamite. Several nights Jackie sang so hard she literally had a spot or two on her robe from peeing. Singing far too hard, I also peed here and there in the early days; I quickly realized no one should sing that hard. Sam Cooke never sang too hard. He sang hard occasionally, though, and when he did you were in for the best time of your life. Later, of course, Sam would become a major crossover star in the world of pop. But to hear him during his gospel days was a special thrill. His biggest hits were "Nearer to Thee," "Wonderful," and "Touch the Hem of His Garment." As I mentioned, I established myself by singing my first solo in church, "Jesus Be a Fence Around Me," because I loved the Soul Stirrers' version so much. Sam was love on first hearing, love at first sight. That Sunday evening he and L.C. were outfitted in dark-brown-and-blue supersharp trench coats that had a foreign intrigue about them. Sam was certainly an inspiration to me. I was so influenced by him that Daddy told me to stop emulating Sam and instead express my own heart and soul. I'm so thankful today for my father's advice. Excerpted from Aretha: From These Roots by Aretha Franklin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. xi
Precious Memoriesp. 3
Tenderheadedp. 8
Other Sundays, Other Voicesp. 16
Mother's Dayp. 22
Landscape of My Childhoodp. 33
"Let's Go Around Together"p. 45
The Soul Stirrerp. 50
Romeo of the Roller Rinkp. 57
The Glory Roadp. 63
Casanova Revisitedp. 70
The Big Applep. 79
The Circuitp. 89
Young, Naive, and Starry-Eyedp. 99
The Breakthroughp. 107
Queen for All Seasonsp. 118
And Along Came Wolfp. 128
Sizzling in the Seventiesp. 137
City of Dreamsp. 145
Gotta Find Me an Angelp. 155
City of Angelsp. 164
Here Comes the Bridep. 172
Today I Sing the Bluesp. 181
"You've Got to Hold On"p. 188
Jump to Itp. 193
Fear of Flyingp. 200
Freewayp. 208
I'm Pressing Onp. 215
Through the Stormp. 223
Stormin' Norm's Backp. 231
Hail to the Chiefp. 240
Aretha Is Still Arethap. 246
Discographyp. 253