Digging Into Aretha Franklin’s Detroit Gospel Roots

Aretha Franklin and Detroit Roots
Flowers and pictures are placed on Aretha Franklin's star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Aug. 16 in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press
Aretha Franklin and Detroit Roots
Flowers and pictures are placed on Aretha Franklin's star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Aug. 16 in Los Angeles. Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Digging Into Aretha Franklin’s Detroit Gospel Roots

Soul diva Aretha Franklin came up in the gospel tradition of 1950s Detroit.

Her father was a Baptist preacher and at an early age she learned to play piano and sing by ear, eventually becoming the star soloist at her church.

Her brother Cecil Franklin told the New York Times that his sister only had to hear a song once and she could sing it front to back. “Her ear was infallible,” he said.

Franklin took that skill from the gospel choir into the world of secular music, but she never really left her roots behind. She passed away Thursday in Detroit at the age of 76.

Morning Shift talks with Nick Austin about Franklin’s Detroit roots and Detroit sound. Austin is a classically trained musician and host of the Soul Saturday program on WDET in the Motor City.

GUEST: Nick Austen, Host of Soul Saturday on WDET in Detroit

LEARN MORE: Aretha Franklin Dies At 76: Detroit Star Transformed American Music (Detroit Free Press 8/16/18)

Soul Saturday (WDET)