A Celebration Of Aretha Franklin’s Country Roots And Soul Superstardom

When viewed through the lens of Aretha Franklin's life and art, country music supersedes stereotypes and encapsulates excellence.

Jennifer Hudson is scheduled to be a guest performer at the 2021 CMA Awards. The torch song crooner’s appearance is related to one of her highlight moments from the past twelve months: portraying singer Aretha Franklin in Respect, a biopic on the legendary artist’s life and times. Intriguingly, the Detroit-born and Memphis-raised Franklin’s connection to country music — and its impact upon her iconic career as a soul vocalist — are essential to understanding her career.

Country music’s roots are based deep within the folk and gospel traditions. Thus, as the daughter of iconic Baptist minister and civil rights leader C.L. Franklin (who began singing in his church), Aretha certainly has precedence in a corner of country’s lineage. To wit, upon her 2018 passing, Willie Nelson called Franklin “the greatest gift and the voice of a generation. She could turn any song into a hymn,” and Faith Hill — who partnered with Franklin on the album, Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love in 2006 noted as well, “GLORY, GLORY, GLORY to the ALMIGHTY!!! The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead.”

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