Aretha: From These Roots

Franklin, Aretha; Ritz, David

Published by Villard Books, 1999
ISBN 10: 0375500332 / ISBN 13: 9780375500336
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The book is Signed "PEACE & LOVE, BEST, ARETHA, 99 "on the second page. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: Her soulful, soaring voice has earned her mythic status. Now, in her own moving words, the woman behind the myth is revealed. The result is a captivating self-portrait of one of this century's most fascinating artists, an Aretha Franklin as real as the songs she sings.
        
For the first time anywhere, Aretha tells her story--the glorious triumphs as well as the heartbreaking pain. With refreshing candor, Aretha tells it like it is, the way she sees it, the way she lived it.
        
A child prodigy of the golden age of gospel, the daughter of a world-famous preacher, Aretha was the anointed successor to Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward. But her father had a broader vision and helped Aretha enter the field of pop and jazz. By age eighteen, she was under contract to Columbia Records. Six years later, after only a few minor hits, she switched to Atlantic, where she shook the musical world to its roots. Her song "Respect" became the anthem of an epoch, a touchstone for African Americans, for women, for all people struggling to be free. Aretha became the Queen of Soul, the genre's finest interpreter since Ray Charles.
        
In Aretha: From These Roots, the singer gets up-close and personal. In rich detail, she paints a vivid picture of a Detroit long gone: the storefront churches, the basement parties, the explosive R&B shows. She documents her life as a single teenage mother, working to balance home life with career, coping with two challenging marriages and, later, romantic relationships that were the source of both tremendous joy and unforeseen heartache.    
        
Along the way, we meet the characters who lit up her life: her charismatic father, the Reverend C. L. Franklin, "the man with the million-dollar voice"; Sam Cooke, the man of her dreams; her singing sisters, Erma and Carolyn, and her manager-brother, Cecil; her famous colleagues--Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Luther Vandross, and Luciano Pavarotti--as well as some famous rivals.
        
Aretha emerges as a triumphant woman of rare wit, willing to share with us her passion for great music, great food, and great love affairs. Her book does more than illuminate some of the most exciting songs ever sung; it lets you into the heart and mind of the mesmerizing woman who sang them.  

Review: Unlike the soul-baring performances that have drawn listeners to her for four decades, Aretha Franklin is a bit cagey when it comes to discussing her personal life in her autobiography, From These Roots. The famously press-shy Aretha is a free-speaking anecdote spinner and a blunt sharer of opinions of coworkers and fellow artists. (Don't get her started on Natalie Cole.) But some areas remain blurry; for instance, her troubled first marriage to a temperamental music-business figure named Ted White is covered in only a tiny handful of pages. Other happier memories of lovers and of her late father, the famed minister Rev. C.L. Franklin, find her in a more expansive mood. Most consistently indelible in this telling, though, is her musical story. Born in 1942, she grew up around some of the century's greatest singers--Clara Ward, Dinah Washington, and Sam Cooke were all family friends. A voice that many consider the world's finest, a strikingly individual touch on piano, and an eclectic ear for material combined to make her a notable artist who moved quickly from the gospel circuit to Columbia Records and moderate success in a variety of contexts, from show tunes to a gritty tribute to Washington. Her reminiscences of those days, and of the conquests that followed when she moved to the forefront of the soul revolution after signing to Atlantic, are obviously still fresh for her. A formidable presence even in her 20s, Aretha continues to be a daunting figure. While From These Roots isn't as splashy a triumph as her 1967 Atlantic debut or her house-rocking at the 1998 Grammys with a rendition of Puccini's "Nessun dorma," the book does make for an irresistible reflection on a singular woman and her art. --Rickey Wright

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Aretha: From These Roots
Publisher: Villard Books
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Fine
Edition: First Edition - First Printing.

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