Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin

Little, Brown. Nov. 2014. 528p. photos. discog. filmog. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316196833. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316196826. MUSIC
OrangeReviewStarThat voice, that presence. Aretha Franklin (b. 1942) has been dazzling audiences and performing magic in recording studios for over half a century. Along the way, she has encountered heartbreak and happiness, achieved global success, and defined divadom all while continuing to surprise fans with her marvelous voice and stunning performances. Grammy winner and four-time winner of the Gleason Music Book Award Ritz (Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye) collaborated with Franklin on an earlier book, Aretha: From These Roots, but feeling that there was more to the story, he has revisited Franklin 15 years later "in an attempt to reinterpret and expand her interpretation." The finished product is commendable for its depth, much of which comes from interviews with key figures and family members, as well as Ritz's highly readable, captivating style. It's a compelling record of the life of a musical titan and a fascinating picture of the process of recording some of the seminal popular music of our time.
VERDICT The king of cowriters provides the queen of soul with the definitive biography, along with a healthy dose of reverence, reflection and, above all, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]

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