Aretha Franklin

4 April 2015
Discusses the life and career of the African-American soul singer who blended gospel and popular styles.

Aretha Franklin did more than any other artist to bring the forms and spirit of African-American gospel music into the popular arena. Franklin possesses one of the finest voices in the world and, throughout the late 1960s and the 1970s, she created a stream of hit records that helped define black popular music of the time. Whatever labels, soul, or rhythm and blues, or rock and roll, are placed on her music, Franklin was the primary force in combining the sound and feeling of one major American art form with another.

The history of African American music has been characterized by cross-pollination among various forms. Country blues, urban blues, New Orleans Jazz, Bebop, big-band jazz, and rhythm and blues, have all influenced each other profoundly. These influences flowed back and forth among the various forms. But …

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