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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2014 David Ritz (P)2014 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Brad Raymond does a great job of portraying the relatives and friends in her life who helped her succeed." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    78
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    26
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    4
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    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    65
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    29
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    9
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very well researched book

I don't usually read unauthorized biographies but I have tremendous respect for David Ritz and I am an unapologetic Aretha groupie. The first thing that struck me about the book was the amount of research that was obviously applied. I knew very little about the Rev. C.L. Franklin's life outside of the church and found this information to be fascinating. I didn't realize the depth of the sibling rivalry between Aretha and her sisters, although I didn't get the impression that they didn't love and support each other. I had heard rumors of her first husband being a pimp and was shocked to find that to be true. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she was such a dominant force in the studio during the Atlantic years as it relates to her production skills, as well as her arrangement prowess. I found myself sympathizing with her insecurities and her bouts with depression, especially when she was with Ted White. I could write for hours about how this book made me feel about her but the bottom line is that we're all human beings who have to deal with life on life's terms and, in that regard, she's no different than anybody else. I actually felt a little guilty after I read the book, as though I were a Peeping Tom peering into her windows. That's how well written and thorough this book was. I know that Aretha wasn't happy about this book and I can't say that I blame her considering how much was revealed. But I couldn't stop listening and I plan on listening to it again because it's just that good. Aretha is an American icon and she has nothing to be ashamed of and this book made me love her music even more, which I didn't think was possible. So if by some miraculous chance that Aretha is reading this I tip my hat to you as an artist and, more importantly, as a woman. Bravo David Ritz.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

New and Renewed Respect For A Living Legend

Would you listen to Respect again? Why?

The story was researched and written well and told in a way that was entertaining.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Ruth Bowen Aretha's outspoken and salty booking agent who didn't have any reservations in telling it the way she saw it. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Ruth Bowen in their lives.

What about Brad Raymond’s performance did you like?

His performance was great and told the story with unabandoned engagement and bright imagination giving each character their own vocal inflections and tone.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Retouched Portrait Of A Diva

Any additional comments?

This book was far more complimentary to the persona of Aretha Franklin that I thought it would be based on her own reaction to the book proclaiming it was just a book of lies. Not only did it recount several stories that I had known about previously being an enduring fan of Aretha over the years, it also includes historical events and other stories told by Aretha's contemporaries who had interactions with her. I thought the book was well written and researched and should give us a new...or renewed respect for this woman who has had a remarkable career in spite of many obstacles that were personal, professional, real and imagined, imposed by others and self imposed. As the author stated there is not just one story of Aretha, but several. And this story as told by Ritz, paints her in a humanistic light fraught with frailties and imperfections of which she should not be ashamed of and Ritz should not have to apologize for.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent... if think you will like, you will love

What made the experience of listening to Respect the most enjoyable?

The quality of the book... the content... the writing... the information.

What did you like best about this story?

The revealing of what was for me, up until now, the untold story... not just the WHAT of Aretha, the WHY of Aretha.

Have you listened to any of Brad Raymond’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

At times I felt hostage to this book by just wanting to hear more and more and more.

Any additional comments?

An excellent book! Five out of five stars. As with any biography, the reader's interest in the subject matter is a crucial consideration. But... if you think you might like this book, you will love this book. It is a gift.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Almost scripted.. the colorful stuff was left out

The book was ok and a little interesting the first half, after that it became the same stuff. Way too many names, and names, and names. If I wasn't a R&B, Motown fan would have been lost after the second chapter.
I am a Detroiter so, I know of many colorful things surrounding Aretha Franklin and the really interesting stuff was held back in the book.
My friend lived next to her in one of her West Bloomfield homes it was a circus, there was a broken down limo in the front driveway for yrs. The sub community tried enforce her to move it and the city fined her several times for it. Her yard was an eye sore. She ran up thousands of dollars at a lingerie store in the strip mall where I work and never paid them... on and on. Anything of that nature was left out.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

*Sigh*

I enjoyed learning about the timeline of Ms. Franklin’s musical career, however the condescending and judgmental tone of the author compiled with the performance of the narrator was a huge turn-off. The last 12 minutes of “praise” was not enough to rectify the blatant disrespect peppered throughout this book. What this woman managed to accomplish in Jim Crow America AND battling depression is nothing short of miraculous.

PS—The song by Earth, Wind & Fire is Boogie Wonderland. Not wonderful as stated in this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Long live the Queen

I am sure the proud Queen would approve. I know more about her and her journey.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Honestly

My Opinion: Aretha's Autobiography was a complicated, emotional, and never ending adversion to all the answers you thought it would eventually answer. It was an exciting ride to no where, but nontheless somewhat entertaining.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Aretha...we never knew the real you. But the you we knew...blessed us all. Great read!

If you can listen to this account of Aretha without judgement...you will be blessed to learn what made her so great. All great people have skeletons. I don’t feel as though this book make her to be a monster. It makes her human. Rest In Peace Aretha. Rest assured you throne is well preserved. Also the narrator was excellent!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Looking for a biography not a listing of previous work.

I wanted a book to learn more of Aretha Franklin but instead I got this book that is just full of name dropping and advertisements of the authors past works.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Queen of Soul

With the passing of Aretha Franklin I have been on YouTube going over numerous performances of her live material and wanting to know about her life. Aretha Franklin's music had been introduced to me as soon as I came out of the womb and other than her being the Queen of Soul I never knew of the hardships that she had to overcome just too stay relevant for the last six decades this book informs you of all that and more.