Category: gospel

Aretha Franklin photographed by Barry Feinstein in Los Angeles, 1972.

Aretha Franklin photographed by Barry Feinstein in Los Angeles, 1972.

On this day in music history: June 1, 1972 – “Amazing Grace”, the third live album (twenty second overall) by Aretha Franklin is released. Produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Aretha Franklin, it is recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA on January 13-14, 1972. Coming off another highly successful year in 1971, Aretha Franklin begins 1972 by returning to her gospel roots. Brought up singing in the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, pastored by her father the Rev. C.L. Franklin, “The Queen Of Soul” decides to record a new album of church standards. It is recorded over two evenings at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA. Featured along with Aretha is soul gospel legend the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir. Franklin is backed by members of her band including Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (drums), Cornell Dupree (guitar), Kenneth Lupper (organ) and Pancho Morales (percussion). Originally issued as a fourteen track double album, “Amazing Grace” is a major success, becoming the best selling gospel album of all time (and of her career), winning a Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1973. First released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in expanded form in 1999. Having pared the recordings down to fit comfortably on four sides of a vinyl LP, the new double CD reissue titled “Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings”. The original version is reissued on vinyl in 2014 by Rhino Records. An expanded four LP vinyl set, featuring the contents of the 1999 CD set are released in 2019. Along with the album, the performances were filmed for a proposed documentary and concert film directed by Sydney Pollack (“Tootsie”, “Out Of Africa”). Because the film was made without clapperboards to mark the film for proper synchronization with the sound, it is shelved by Warner Bros and sits in their vault for more than thirty eight years. Before Pollack’s death in 2008, he turns the footage over to film producer Alan Elliott, who spends two years painstakingly synchronizing the film and sound. Initially, Elliott intends to release the film in 2011, but is prevented from doing so when Franklin sues him for using her likeness without her permission. But when the contract signed by Aretha is found in Warner Bros archives, plans for screenings at several film festivals are planned in 2015. Once again they are blocked by the singer. After Franklin’s passing in August of 2018, the film is finally cleared for release by the singer’s family, premiering November of 2018, before going into wide release in April of 2019 “Amazing Grace” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seven on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: December 4, 1956 – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis record together at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. This informal gathering of these iconic rock and roll and country performers takes place during a recording session for Carl Perkins, who is re-recording “Matchbox” and some other new songs. Jerry Lee Lewis, also a Sun recording artist is present to play piano on the session which is being produced by label founder Sam Phillips. Elvis, who by now is signed to RCA and is in the middle of his initial rush of fame, happens to drop by the studio that day to visit Phillips. Presley and Phillips are talking in the control room of the studio, when Johnny Cash (also a Sun artist) also comes by the studio. Eventually, Elvis, Carl, Johnny, and Jerry Lee end up gathering around the piano and begin an informal jam session, performing several gospel, rock and roll and country standards. Sam Phillips has a tape machine running throughout the jam session, capturing the final results on three reels of tape. The recordings are put in the vault and do not see the light of day until twenty five years later when an album titled “The Million Dollar Quartet” is released. An expanded edition of the album is released by RCA Records in 1990 featuring a total for forty six tracks, though most are only song excepts interspersed with studio chatter. Viewed as a once in a life time historic event in music history, “The Million Dollar Quartet” is adapted into a successful stage musical in 2007, with limited runs in Florida and Washington before moving to Broadway in 2010. The musical is a hit on the Great White Way, and is nominated for three 2010 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. Actor Levi Kreis receives the Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis.

“The Queen Of Soul” Aretha Franklin (born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, TN) – March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018, RIP

On this day in music history: June 1, 1972 – “Amazing Grace”, the third live album (twenty second overall) by Aretha Franklin is released. Produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Aretha Franklin, it is recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA on January 13-14, 1972. Coming off another highly successful year in 1971, Aretha Franklin begins 1972 by returning to her gospel roots. Brought up singing in the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, pastored by her father the Rev. C.L. Franklin, and having made gospel recordings in her pre-fame years, “The Queen Of Soul” decides to record a new album of church standards. It is recorded over two evenings at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA. Featured along with Aretha is soul gospel legend the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir. Franklin is backed by members of her band including Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (drums), Cornell Dupree (guitar), Kenneth Lupper (organ) and Pancho Morales (percussion). Originally issued as a fourteen track double album, “Amazing Grace” is a major success, becoming the best selling gospel album of all time (and of her career), winning a Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1973. First released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in expanded form in 1999. Having pared the recordings down to fit comfortably on four sides of a vinyl LP, the new double CD reissue titled “Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings”, features the full performances from both evenings. The original version is reissued on vinyl in 2014 by Rhino Records. Along with the album, the performances were filmed for a proposed documentary and concert film directed by Sydney Pollack (“Tootsie”, “Out Of Africa”). Because the film was made without clapperboards to mark the film for proper synchronization with the sound, it is shelved by Warner Bros and sits in their vault for more than thirty eight years. Before Pollack’s death in 2008, he turns the footage over to film producer Alan Elliott, who spends two years painstakingly synchronizing the film and sound. Initially, Elliott intends to release the film in 2011, but is prevented from doing so when Franklin sues him for using her likeness without her permission. But when the contract signed by Aretha is found in Warner Bros archives, plans for screenings at several film festivals are planned in 2015. Once again they are blocked by the singer when she is granted a last minute injunction, again stopping the proposed screenings. To date, the film remains in legal limbo and has not been seen by the public other than a brief film trailer. “Amazing Grace” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seven on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On March 6, 1971 some of the biggest Soul, R&B, Jazz and Gospel acts of the day played a 14 hour concert in Accra, Ghana, celebrating its 14th anniversary of independence. Performers included Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner, Santana, Roberta Flack, Les McCann, The Staple Singers, Willie Bobo and Eddie Harris. This was captured on film and subsequently released as Soul to Soul; a documentary of the concert intercut with footage of the performers rediscovering their roots and heritage.

Gospel music icon Dr. Edwin Hawkins (born Edwin Reuben Hawkins in Oakland, CA) – August 19, 1943 – January 15, 2018, RIP

Sam Cooke recording in Los Angeles, circa 1960.

(Photos by Jess Rand)