Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Queen of Soul Pays Homage to Fellow Divas

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Queen of Soul Pays Homage to Fellow Divas

Article excerpt

Aretha Franklin appeared on "American Idol" last week, singing "I Will Survive" and giving the show's young contestants advice on how they themselves can survive in the music industry. She talked about staying away from bad influences, keeping healthy and being not just an artist, but a businessperson, too.

"The first time I walked into a recording studio," the Queen of Soul told the "Idol" hopefuls, " 'Without the One You Love' was playing, and it actually brought me to tears, just to hear my music. And while I was tearing up, other people were crying all the way to the bank.

"Pay attention to what's going on, to the business side."

Franklin, who kicks off a tour Saturday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, sang "I Will Survive" on her October album, "Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics." Most of the album's songs are associated with her contemporaries: women such as Gladys Knight ("Midnight Train to Georgia"), Barbra Streisand ("People"), The Supremes ("You Keep Me Hangin' On") and the late Etta James ("At Last"). But there are also some songs on it by younger singers, including Adele ("Rolling in the Deep") and Alicia Keys ("No One").

It's not the most obvious album for Franklin to make: These songs already have versions so definitive that Franklin can't possibly top them, and it feels odd to see such a trailblazer following in other women's footsteps. But her voice sounds great throughout, her performances are consistently animated, and she brings new twists to the material such as adding excerpts from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and Destiny's Child's "Survivor" to "Rolling in the Deep" and "I Will Survive," respectively. The Prince-written "Nothing Compares 2 U" (sung most famously, as a ballad, by Sinead O'Connor) has upbeat, almost manic production by Andre Benjamin of Outkast, as well as some deft scat singing by Franklin.

In a phone interview, Franklin, 72, says the album's executive producer, legendary record company executive Clive Davis, was responsible for its concept. …

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