Friday, June 22, 2012

40 Year Itch: Amazing Grace


Aretha Franklin's best selling album of all time, released in June of 1972, remains her greatest achievement. She may have achieved worldwide fame with secular soul songs like "Respect" and "I Never Loved A Man ( The Way That I Love You)" but Aretha was first and foremost a preacher's daughter. Her father, The Rev. C.L. Franklin, had earned the nickname "The Million Dollar Voice" for his sermons at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

On January 13, 1972 Aretha went back to church, in this case the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, to record what would become a double album with James Cleveland and The Southern California Community Choir. Aretha sang many of the songs she grew up with but also sang Marvin Gaye's "Wholy Holy" and Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" ( as part of a medley with "Precious Lord (Take My Hand)".

Some of those in attendance said the real powerhouse in church that day wasn't Aretha. It was the Spirit. Among those leaving the church inspired were Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who were in LA finishing up Exile On Main St. They added gospel inflections to both "Let It Loose" and "Shine a Light" as a result.

Amazing Grace has sold two million copies so far.

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