Aretha Franklin says she’s retiring after one last album
The Short Version
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, says she is retiring from performing after one last album. At age 74, such a move is perfectly understandable, especially given her health problems in recent years. So, she’ll make one last album with Stevie Wonder producing and then call it quits. No more. But Clive Davis doesn’t think she really means it.
Some Background Info
If you are one of those dear, innocent three-month-old children who has never heard of Aretha Franklin, it is time you were educated on the matters of soul. Quite simply, there is no one better. Beyoncè and Rhianna and even Lady Gaga would be nothing without the foundation Aretha laid down before those singers were even born. She won 18 Grammy awards back when those actually meant something. She’s sold over 75 million records worldwide. Rolling Stone magazine has named her THE best singer in the world. Period. Aretha was winning lifetime achievement awards back when your parents, or grandparents, were still in high school.
Ms. Franklin has still been going strong. At a Kennedy Center Honors event in 2015, Aretha sat down at a piano and belted out Carole King’s (You make me feel like a ) Natural Woman which was a hit for Franklin all the way back in 1967. Here, take a moment and watch the video:
If I were to try and list just the songs that have been top ten hits for Ms. Franklin, it would extend longer than you likely have time to scroll. There is no one in the music industry today who can even stand in the shadow of Aretha. She’s that important.
So, She’s Going To Retire?
Ms. Frankling told a Detroit NBC news affiliate that she plans to retire this year. She’s already won every award there is to win, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2oo5). There really isn’t anything left for her to do except, possibly, put her legacy further out of reach from anyone else. So, being 74, one can see where she might find it preferable to sit back and take it easy for a while.
Oh, but she wants to do one more album. Just one, mind you. One last collection of songs with long-time friend Stevie Wonder at the production controls. The album hasn’t even been named yet and is already the most highly anticipated project of the year. When two legends of R&B come together like this at any time, you know the results are going to be phenomenal. As a finalè goodbye album, just go ahead and hand out the tissues. I don’t care if all she does is sit at the piano and hum, I’m sure it would be the most soul-stirring hum you’ve ever heard.
Of course, if there’s an album, there has to be a tour, right? Franklin told the Detroit station she would do “some select things, many one a month, for six months out of the year.” Still, she asserts, this is her last year in concert. She wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.
I’m not the only one who is skeptical. Clive Davis, whose Arista label produced Aretha from 1980 through 2004, doesn’t think she’ll be able to stay away from the music. Davis told the Associated Press:
“I think that what she might have meant was that she doesn’t plan an extensive tour — still not flying and still traveling by bus, it’s just hard to stay on that bus. Aretha is still magical in person and still has the God-given voice that she has. I don’t believe that she’s retiring. I just believe that she’s cutting back, judiciously.”
Clive’s reasoning makes more sense. Aretha is one of those people who just can’t stop singing. Maybe we won’t see her as often, but I’m almost certain we’ll still see her. Somewhere. On a stage. Making everyone else look like an amateur.