Aretha Franklin, The ‘Queen Of Soul,’ Dies At 76 ~ Big Loss

Aretha Franklin, pictured in 1968, died Thursday. Known as the "Queen of Soul," she recorded 17 Top 10 singles.

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” died Thursday in her home city of Detroit after battling pancreatic cancer. Her death was confirmed by her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn. She was 76.

Franklin sold more than 75 million records during her life, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She took soul to a new level and inspired generations of singers who came after her.

No one’s life can be condensed to one word — but Aretha Franklin came close when she sang one word: “respect.”

“Respect” was written by the great Otis Redding. In his version, a man is pleading, offering his woman anything she wants in exchange for her respect. He sang: “Hey little girl, you’re sweeter than honey / And I’m about to give you all of my money / But all I want you to do / Is just give it, give it / Respect when I come home …”

Aretha changed those lyrics to demand parity. “Oooh, your kisses,” she sang, “Sweeter than honey / And guess what? / So is my money …” In her hands, “Respect” became an empowering song — for black women and for all women. It was a No. 1 hit in 1967, and it became her signature song.

Franklin was 25 years old when “Respect” was released. But she had been singing since she was a small child in her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church.

“Someone found a footstool in the office and put it here on the stage, and they put it there for me to be seen because I was so small,” Franklin told NPR’s Morning Editionin 2004.

Aretha Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tenn. — but she was raised mostly in Detroit. Her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was a famous preacher, and her childhood was steeped in both music and the burgeoning civil rights movement. Her family was close friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who often stayed at their home. Some of the most important gospel artists of the day came to visit regularly as well, including Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers, Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke.

It was Franklin’s father who introduced her to the recording industry. Nicknamed “the man with the million-dollar voice,” C.L. Franklin was among the first Christian ministers to record his sermons (making dozens for the JVB and Chess labels) and to do radio broadcasts of his Sunday addresses; his 1953 sermon “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest” is part of the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Franklin told PBS’s American Masters in 1988 that when she was a child, her father would coach her. “He would give me different records to listen to, to see if I could emulate them on the piano, different vocalists to listen to.” These were gospel artists like Ward and Jackson. But the young Aretha listened to popular music, too. And as she toured with her father she met R&B artists like Fats Domino and Bobby Bland.

There was also her Detroit neighborhood: It was filled with future Motown stars like Diana Ross, the Four Tops and Smokey Robinson, who grew up right around the corner from her.

Franklin made her first album for JVB when she was just 14 years old. It was a collection of gospel songs that included “Precious Lord (Take My Hand).”

Four years later, she confided to her father that she longed to cross over from gospel to secular music. So C.L. Franklin helped her make a demo that led to a contract with Columbia Records, initially working with the legendary producer John Hammond. Decades later, Hammond told NPR that when he first heard her, his response was, “‘This is the best thing I’ve heard since Billie Holiday. Who is she?”

In 1961, the bluesy “Won’t Be Long,” from her first Columbia album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo, became Franklin’s first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100.

After making seven records for Columbia over a six-year span, she signed with Atlantic Records — and that’s where she became the “Queen of Soul.”

At first, Atlantic wanted her to record at the Stax studios in Memphis, but Stax did not want to pay for the sessions. Instead, Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler took Franklin to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama.

The Wexler/Franklin pairing proved magical. Franklin brought her own material to the label, and Wexler encouraged her to play piano in her recording sessions. And from 1967 to the mid-’70s, Franklin released a string of classics. The first was “I Never Loved A Man” — with her sisters as backup singers — followed by “Do Right Woman — Do Right Man,” “Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “Rock Steady” and “Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do).”

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Aretha Franklin: The ‘Fresh Air’ Interview


Aretha Franklin, music’s ‘Queen of Soul,’ dies at 76

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 1.22.18 PM.pngOne of the most celebrated and influential singers in the history of American vernacular song, Aretha Franklin reserved her place on music’s Mount Rushmore in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her career spanned decades and was defined by such records as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.”

Aretha Franklin, whose exceptionally expressive singing about joy and pain and faith and liberation earned the Detroit diva a permanent and undisputed title — the “Queen of Soul” — died Aug. 16 at her home in Detroit. She was 76.

Her representative Gwendolyn Quinn announced the death and said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

One of the most celebrated and influential singers in the history of American vernacular song, Ms. Franklin reserved her place on music’s Mount Rushmore in the late 1960s and early 1970s by exploring the secular sweet spot between sultry rhythm-and-blues and the explosive gospel music she’d grown up singing in her father’s Baptist church.

The result was potent and wildly popular, with defining soul anthems that turned Ms. Franklin into a symbol of black pride and women’s liberation.

Her calling card: “Respect,” the Otis Redding hit that became a crossover smash in 1967 after Ms. Franklin tweaked it just so (a “sock it to me” here, some sisterly vocal support there), transforming the tune into a fervent feminist anthem.

“Whenever women heard the record, it was like a tidal wave of sororal unity,” the song’s producer, Jerry Wexler, said two decades after Ms. Franklin first declared, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”

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Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, Dead at 76

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It was a small moment that would reverberate for decades. On January 24th, 1967, Aretha Franklinwas struggling to record “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” her first project for Atlantic after several years recording more conventional material for Columbia. As Franklin would recall, something with the studio musicians wasn’t clicking until someone said, “Aretha, why don’t you sit down and play?” Taking a seat at the piano, Franklin quickly cut the smoldering track that would become her first No. 1 R&B hit. “It just happened,” she said. “We arrived, and we arrived very quickly.”

And it never stopped. For more than five decades, Franklin was a singular presence in pop music, a symbol of strength, women’s liberation and the civil rights movement. Franklin, one of the greatest singers of all time, died Thursday of pancreatic cancer, according to her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn.

“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” Quinn said in a statement. “Franklin … passed away on Thursday morning, August 16 at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones. In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” Quinn added. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

“Aretha Franklin was one of the most iconic voices in music history and a brilliant artist,” Franklin’s record label Sony Music said in a statement. “Over the course of her decades-long career, which included many years with the Sony Music family, she inspired countless musicians and fans, and created a legacy that paved the way for a long line of strong female artists.”

Dubbed the Queen of Soul in 1967, Franklin loomed over culture in several monumental ways. The daughter of a preacher man, she was born with one of pop’s most commanding and singular voices, one that could move from a sly, seductive purr to a commanding gospel roar. From early hits like “I Never Loved a Man” and “Think” up through later touchstones like “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves” with Eurythmics, there was no mistaking Franklin’s colossal pipes. As one of her leading producers, Jerry Wexler, said of her simmering gospel-pop classic, “Spirit in the Dark,” “It was one of those perfect R&B blends of the sacred and the secular … It’s Aretha conducting church right in the middle of a smoky nightclub. It’s everything to everyone.”

Her journey — from singing in her father’s church and tackling tasteful pop at the dawn of her career before becoming the voice of the civil rights movement — also embodied the African American experience of the 1960s. Her brawny, funked-up makeover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” based on what Wexler called her own “stop-and-stutter syncopation” idea, was more than just a Number One pop hit in 1967. “She had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans and women and anyone else who felt marginalized because of what they looked like, who they loved,” Barack Obama said in 2014. “They wanted some respect.” At 16, she went on tour with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and later sang at his funeral.

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Watch Late Night Hosts Lampoon Trump, Omarosa’s Strange, Embarrassing Feud

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The late night circuit was, predictably, all about Omarosa Manigault Newman. After the former Trump staffer released secretly-taped conversations between her and Trump as well as Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her, the tapes – and the media circus around them – served as comedic fodder for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Late Night With Seth Meyers and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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Dick Cavett in the Digital Age

Stopping to smell the flowers with the last great intellectual talk-show host.

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Everyone wants to ask Dick Cavett the same question, and it is a question that he never wants to answer: Of all today’s talk-show hosts, who is the “next Dick Cavett”?

“Well, that’s an awkward subject matter for me, because I know all of them,” Mr. Cavett, 81, said on a recent sunny Thursday afternoon at his sprawling country house in Connecticut. “I’m not addicted to talk shows. God knows, I’ve spent enough time on them.”

As in Mr. Cavett’s 1960s and ’70s heyday, the country is in a period of turbulence, with racial tensions flaring, protests in the streets, and a fundamental ideological fissure. The hosts who have emphasized substance, who have “gone political,” have been praised and nominated for Emmys.

But “the next Cavett”? Is such a thing possible?

If only.

For three decades, Mr. Cavett was the thinking person’s Johnny Carson, embodiment of an East Coast sophisticate. He wore smart turtlenecks and double-breasted blazers, had more cultural references than a Google server and laced martini-dry witticisms into lengthy, probing talks with 20th-century luminaries including Bette Davis, James Baldwin, Mick Jagger and Jean-Luc Godard.

A Renaissance salon in a rabbit-ears era, “The Dick Cavett Show” was woke some 50 years before the term came into vogue. Viewers tuned in to see Muhammad Ali spout off about the Vietnam War or to see Yoko Ono show her conceptual art in a 90-minute discussion with John Lennon.

Imagine: from left, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Dick Cavett in 1971. Credit ABC, via Getty Images

Fans of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” would scarcely know what to make of the infamous and chaotic 1971 “Cavett” episode featuring Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, who had recently compared Mr. Mailer to Charles Manson in a New York Review of Books essay.

After Mr. Mailer accused Mr. Vidal of “intellectual pollution” and Mr. Cavett of being “smaller intellectually” than himself, Mr. Cavett suggested, in what was perhaps the original sick burn, “Why don’t you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine?”

In fact, “‘intellectual’ was a word that always made me go up the wall, partly because I knew how the word is esteemed in the world of television,” Mr. Cavett said, sipping seltzer with orange and munching grapes in his sunroom. “I was called ‘intellectual,’ I guess, because I didn’t know any better than to read the guests’ books.”

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Richard Ford Reads “Displaced” With Deborah Treisman


Richard Ford reads his short story from the August 6 & 13, 2018, issue of the magazine. Ford is the author of five short-story collections and seven novels, including “Independence Day,” “The Lay of the Land,” and “Canada.” He is working on a new collection titled “The Irish in America.”

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When The Weather Is Extreme, Is Climate Change To Blame? ~ NPR

Dramatic weather events happened this past week in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. There were wildfires in Greece, Scandinavia, and the Western U.S.Flooding followed record rainfalls in the Northeast. And dangerous heat waves settled over the Southwest, Japan, and the U.K.

If it continues like this, 2018 could end up being one of the hottest years on record.

When the news is full of stories on extreme weather, it’s hard not to wonder: Is this what climate change looks like?

Climate scientists say yes — though it’s complicated.

Take wildfires, for example.

“We see five times more large fires today than we did in the 1970s,” says Jennifer Balch, professor in geography and director of Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder.


Wildfires are part of the ecosystem of the American West, and scientists expect a certain number of them under normal average conditions. But what global warming does, says Balch, is change the backdrop against which they happen.

“Fire season is about three months longer than it was just a few decades ago,” she says. “We’ve seen a 2-degree Fahrenheit increase across the Western U.S. Snowpack is melting earlier, and what that’s doing is essentially opening up the window for fires to happen over a much longer period of time.”

Last year was the costliest fire season ever, with damages exceeding $18 billion dollars.

Overall, weather and climate disasters in the U.S. caused more than $300 billion in damages in 2017, shattering previous records. Though that’s not all climate — those increased costs are partly the result of development and sprawl.

Andreas Prein is a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. He studies how extreme weather — especially thunderstorms and heavy downpours — might change in the future.

“What we see from climate change is that you lose a lot of these very moderate and light rainfall storms and replace it with very intense storms,” he says. Over the last 50 years, the number of really big rainstorms has increased by as much as 70 percent.

Scientists are just beginning to put numbers on the effect climate change is having on individual storms.

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Writer Craig Childs Tracks The First People In North America


Author Craig Childs on the Harding Icefield in Alaska.

(Sarah Gilman)

When I emailed nature writer Craig Childs recently, he sent back a perfectly characteristic reply: “I’m going to be scrambling through the desert for the next week,” he wrote. “Let’s find each other on the other side.”

Childs is an award-winning nature writer and commentator on NPR. Most of his books have been inspired by the desert southwest, where he often explores for weeks on end. Lately, Childs has tackled bigger topics, like how the world will end, and more recently, how people came to the Americas.

An ice camp on the Harding Icefield in south-central Alaska, where author Craig Childs scoped out ice-crossing conditions.

(Craig Childs)

He has spent the past five years traveling far from his home in Western Colorado to track humans’ entry onto this continent during the Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago. His adventures from what’s left of the Bering Ice Bridge to the Florida panhandle are the basis of a book due out next year to be called “Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America.” Childs will talk about it Thursday night at Chautauqua in Boulder.



Why our representative government doesn’t work …

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The House Judiciary Committee hearing for FBI agent Peter Strzok quickly devolved into a shouting match over procedures and rules.



Republicans fought bitterly Thursday with embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok, at a congressional hearing that frequently devolved into shouting matches about bias and testy exchanges about procedure between supporters of President Trump and defenders of the agency investigating him.

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Great Sand Dunes Park Was Born Out Of Cooperation. Is There A Drought Lesson For Today? ~ CPR NEWS

BY GRACE HOOD ~ Colorado Public Radio

December 18, 1999 marked the Summit in the Sand meeting at Great Sand Dunes National Park. From left to right: Rep Scott McInnis, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Sen. Wayne Allard, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar. 

Courtesy Fred Bunch/National Park Service

Eighty percent of Colorado is experiencing some form of drought or dryness. That means dry river basins, hungry wildfires and parched farmland across the state. Some have already started comparing conditions to the 2002 drought.It’s also prompting a closer look by historians into how communities have survived and triumphed over water scarcity — instead of the old Western yarn that “water is for fighting.”

Back in 1999, some of Colorado’s most powerful politicians stood on top of the windswept sandy hills of what would soon become Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. It was an attempt to conserve not only the land, but an underground aquifer and streams.

“I think the feeling was, ‘if we’re going to save this resource, the time is now. We’ve got to act,’” said Michael Geary, a historian who wrote “Sea of Sand: A History of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.”

Just the year before, voters defeated Amendments 15 and 16, which would have paved the way to export water out of the rural San Luis Valley where the sand dunes are found. The famous photo happened when a ring of state and federal lawmakers shooed away the media and other park employees. Rep. Scott McInnis, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar and Senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell spoke alone, out in the open, for more than a half hour.

The summit on the sand led to Allard’s legislation to expand the national monument to a national park. It was a moment when Republicans, Democrats, ranchers and the environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy came together.

“There was a great sense of relief that they got this through when they did. And that they did something that was very worthwhile,” Geary said.

Historians at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center of the American West want to know why some communities rally around water resources, and others fail. In the San Luis Valley, the community first fought over water then later banded together to save it. Patty Limerick, the director of the center, said tales of fights over water are both predictable and leave people beaten down.

“But water also causes some people in some circumstances to say, ‘we’ve got to pull it together,’” she said.

A picture of the Great Sand Dunes taken from space by the Expedition 16 crew aboard the International Space Station, October 26, 2007.

Courtesy National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Center has looked at historical examples of cooperation tracking back to the 1930s Dust Bowl. They’ve also looked at more recent cooperative agreements that have occurred along the Colorado River basin since 1999.

Roger Pulwarty, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration senior advisor and drought expert, pointed out that, in many cases, reaching a crisis point “actually allowed us to create systems to be more efficient, to protect our watersheds, has actually led us to produce very positive outcomes.”

Crises don’t always force people to work together. Nearly 20 years ago in Oregon, conflict arose when the federal government stopped farmers from pumping water to protect endangered fish. After years of fighting, a diverse group of tribes, ranchers, farmers, environmental groups and state governments banded together to sign the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement in 2010.

“It was quite remarkable that people were able to find common ground and come together,” said Brian Cannon, history professor at Brigham Young University.

Just like with the Great Sand Dunes, Congressional approval was needed. But Republicans became wary of a deal to remove dams from the river. Cannon said there were misunderstandings among stakeholders. The agreement unraveled in 2015 and Congress never approved it.

Water trickles over Copco 1 Dam on the Klamath River outside Hornbrook, Calif., August 21, 2009.

Jeff Barnard/AP

“One of the things we can learn is that the negotiations took place behind closed doors,” said Cannon, who indicated that proprietary business issues prompted the lack of clarity among the general public. “So that’s one thing we can learn is the value where it’s possible of transparency in negotiations,” Cannon added.

A different version of the Klamath plan continues to move forward. A corporation has proposed removal of the dams. But this provides little help to irrigators who have struggled with water supply due to endangered fish in the past.

In Colorado’s San Luis Valley, historian Michael Geary said the region is gearing up for another fight. The Bureau of Land Management has delayed a plan that could expand oil and gas drilling within one mile of the park. That has some worried about the water. Now, the BLM will consult with the Navajo Nation, which is a local landowner, before making their final decision.

“It’s very easy [to think] black and white, us versus them,” Geary said. “But that really doesn’t get anybody anywhere. What gets people somewhere, and hopefully it’s a place they want to be, is dialogue.”

There’s still work to be done on the agreements that helped create Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is the final year of a study to determine the park’s rights to conserve its underground water resource. If approved, the water right would exist in perpetuity.