Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin and soul music display at the Music and Dance Library

In memory of the great soul legend Aretha Franklin, the Music and Dance Library has a special display ranging from her autobiography Aretha: From These Roots to the broader subject of soul, like Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield and the Rise and Fall of American Soul by Craig Werner. Recordings from our soul collection – including some awesome albums by Franklin and compilation CDs from Atlantic Records – can also be borrowed.

Some of the most hauntingly beautiful music of the 20th century finds itself contained in the realms of soul. Soul is the intersection of gospel, R&B and jazz, using “church rhythms, church patterns and church feelings into personalized love songs” (from Higher Ground). In its infancy, soul was believed by some to be the devil’s music for its sins of profaning gospel music and for this reason, some soul songs were banned. The soul genre is also given credit for inspiring many in the Civil Rights movement.

Though long past its peak of the 1960s, soul’s legacy will live on the genres of today, with many musicians still drawing influences from it. Most obviously, this can be seen by the many songs of soul greats – like Aretha – covered by a wide range of artists, including, but not limited to, Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige, Whitney Houston and Queens of the Stone Age as well as NZ artists such as Betty-Anne Monga and Aaradhna.

Marie-Claire Taylor, Music and Dance Library