Cover image for Respect : the life of Aretha Franklin
Respect : the life of Aretha Franklin
Ritz, David.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
520 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:


Call Number
Material Type
1 B FRANKLIN Adult NonFiction Book
2 B FRANKLIN Adult NonFiction Book
1 B FRANKLIN Adult NonFiction Book
1 B FRANKLIN Adult NonFiction Book

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The definitive biography of the Queen of Soul from acclaimed music writer David Ritz.

Aretha Franklin began life as the golden daughter of a progressive and promiscuous Baptist preacher. Raised without her mother, she was a gospel prodigy who gave birth to two sons in her teens and left them and her native Detroit for New York, where she struggled to find her true voice. It was not until 1967, when a white Jewish producer insisted she return to her gospel-soul roots, that fame and fortune finally came via "Respect" and a rapidfire string of hits. She has evolved ever since, amidst personal tragedy, surprise Grammy performances, and career reinventions.

Again and again, Aretha stubbornly finds a way to triumph over troubles, even as they continue to build. Her hold on the crown is tenacious, and in RESPECT, David Ritz gives us the definitive life of one of the greatest talents in all American culture.

Author Notes

David Ritz has collaborated with Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, B. B. King, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Smokey Robinson, and Don Rickles. He co-wrote the song Sexual Healing with Marvin Gaye. He received the Gleason Music Book Award four times.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1999, Grammy-winner and composer Ritz teamed with Franklin to pen her memoir, Aretha: From These Roots. Here he candidly provides a chronicle of the Queen of Souls rapid climb to fame. Franklin was four when the family moved to Detroit where her famous father, the pastor C.L. Franklin, who became a national gospel and preaching star at New Bethel Baptist Church. Moving year by year through Franklins life, Ritz traces her journey from her days as a teenage mother with two children and her early marriage in her 20s to her first record deal at Columbia, her towering success at Atlantic (where she recorded Respect), and her efforts to reestablish herself in the disco era. In Ritzs admiring portrait, Franklin emerges as a woman who, though overwhelmed by fear and obsessed by control, is nevertheless the ultimate survivor, who continues to move forward with steely determination. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* With an outsize musical talent and a troubled family life, Franklin has worked to keep her painful history hidden and has poured everything into her singing. She was the gospel prodigy of the charismatic Baptist preacher C. L. Franklin; her mother separated from the family and died at an early age. Franklin started her career singing in the gospel circuit, one every bit as steeped in earthly temptations as any other genre, before moving into R & B. She was a legend and a young mother by her teens, eventually earning for herself the title of Queen of Soul, and she struggled to hold on to it through changes in popular music and challenges by younger singers. Despite tumultuous marriages, bouts with alcoholism and depression, and a reputation as a demanding diva, Franklin has maintained her stature on the strength of her talent and her support for civil rights. She has also been steadfast in protecting her image and her secrets, even in her biography, From These Roots (1999), ghostwritten by Ritz. Some 15 years later, this is his unauthorized attempt to get at the elusive Franklin, the one who so skillfully hid her pain in her music. Drawing on previous work and interviews with those close to Franklin, Ritz offers a portrait of a woman for whom faith and respect are essential.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2014 Booklist

Choice Review

Ritz has coauthored many music autobiographies, including Aretha Franklin's Aretha: From These Roots (1999), and he has now written a complete biography of Franklin, including in it many private details missing from the earlier book. Born in Detroit in 1942, the daughter of the legendary minister C. L. Franklin, Aretha Franklin began touring with her father on the gospel circuit when she was in her teens. She began recording for Columbia Records in 1961, but her career did not take off until she signed with Atlantic Records and released her first album in 1967. She soon became the major gospel, blues, and jazz performer she remains today. Drawing from numerous interviews and from published sources, Ritz explores Franklin's complex public and private lives. He also considers historical context, since along with her father Franklin was very involved with the civil rights movement. In that regard, this is a fine companion to Nick Salvatore's Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America & 2005). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, general readers. --Ronald D. Cohen, emeritus, Indiana University Northwest

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. That voice, that presence. Aretha Franklin (b. 1942) has been dazzling audiences and performing magic in recording studios for over half a century. Along the way, she has encountered heartbreak and happiness, achieved global success, and defined divadom all while continuing to surprise fans with her marvelous voice and stunning performances. Grammy winner and four-time winner of the Gleason Music Book Award Ritz (Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye) collaborated with Franklin on an earlier book, Aretha: From These Roots, but feeling that there was more to the story, he has revisited Franklin 15 years later "in an attempt to reinterpret and expand her interpretation." The finished product is commendable for its depth, much of which comes from interviews with key figures and family members, as well as Ritz's highly readable, captivating style. It's a compelling record of the life of a musical titan and a fascinating picture of the process of recording some of the seminal popular music of our time. VERDICT The king of cowriters provides the queen of soul with the definitive biography, along with a healthy dose of reverence, reflection and, above all, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.] Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.