Wade, Dorothy, and Justine Picardie. Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun and the Triumph of Rock'n'Roll. New York: Norton, 1990.
Mellers, Wilfrid. Angels of the Night: Popular Female Singers of Our Time. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.
Randolph, Laura. "Aretha Talks About Men, Marriage, Music and Motherhood." Ebony Apr. 1995: 28+
The Franklins were one of the most prominent black families in Detroit and performers, including future stars such as Smokey Robinson, were among the family's friends. Berry Gordy even tried to sign the very young Aretha to his new Motown record company (Romanowski and George-Warren 353). Reverend Franklin had a national reputation and he frequently entertained visiting African American musicians of all types--Art Tatum, Dinah Washington, Fats Domino, and Sam Cooke. Cooke, a prominent gospel singer who had recently crossed over to popular music, was a major influence on Aretha Franklin's career, and he wanted Aretha, nearing the age of 18, to sign with his label, RCA. Her father had no objection to this direction for Aretha's career. In fact, as Jerry Wexler noted, Franklin himself "lived the pop life to the hilt," and when members of his congregation would deplore his daughter's secular music, "the Reverend set them straight in a hurry" (Wexler and Ritz 206).
Franklin went on to other producers, and never achieved the same level of commercial and artistic success as she had with Wexler. But, a recent interview began by listing her accomplishments. She has won 15 Grammy awards, more than any other woman. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, she was the youngest person ever to receive the Kennedy Center Honor (Randolph 28). Unfortunately, all these honors make it sound as though Franklin has come to the end of her career. At 55, Franklin has reached an age when less youth-oriented performers, such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, had several productive decades before them. Though sh