By Mark Esposito, FFS Contributor
This month in 1967 a young African-American singer left Columbia Records and traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record at FAME studios. Neglected at Columbia, the frustrated singer appeared before the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and belted out a new song, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” When she finished and that last note echoed around the room, there were smiles all around and Atlantic Records had a new star. Her gospel background now on full display, she would collaborate with Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, LaVern Baker and the Drifters. The hits would follow: ” I Say A Little Prayer,” “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and my favorite, “Chain of Fools.” Her career would span the decades and that soulful voice never faded.
She was christened the Queen of Soul by DJ Pervis Spann and eventually reached that pinnacle of artistic honors by becoming known by one name only, Aretha.
If they have music in the hereafter, I think I know who they are holding the microphone for even now.