There is no doubt that 72-year-old Aretha Franklin is a music legend and an inspiration. Aretha Franklin is an 18-time Grammy Award winner as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Grammy Living Legend awardee.
The music legend is set to release a new album that will be a collection of her greatest hits ever. The Queen of Soul’s new album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, is her first studio release in three years – so it is a big deal.
She chats with Billboard magazine and she talks about her new album, Adele, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift and being a diva.
Read excerpts from her interview below!
What was it like making this album?
I had a really good time. I love this music. I bought most of these records in the original version — I had the occasion to tell Berry Gordy that he owed me a ton of money for all the Motown records I bought! “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Midnight Train,” “Survivor” — that’s one of me and my granddaughter’s favorite songs. Victory, that’s her name. I’m coaching her; she wants to be a singer, and she’s coming along very well. She sang for me on the BET Honors. She’s more of a student right now, and she’s definitely finishing her education. But she has the voice, and she’s a very fast learner.
What did Babyface bring to this album?
Well, Babyface brings his savoir faire to every project. He’s a very easy producer to work with, very detailed in listening to everything. But we had a lot of fun, too, a lot of laughter. On “Midnight Train to Georgia,” I was doing some of the Pips moves at the microphone. We all had a lot of fun in the control room, listening to takes and talking about the tracks.
Have you started to work on how you’re going to present these songs onstage?
I’m really looking forward to singing them in concert, because after a certain amount of time, the vocals are going to change, and it’s always a change for the better. It always changes naturally, and only improves. “I Will Survive,” “No One,” “At Last” — I have writers working on arrangements for those now. The stage arrangement is usually the same as the record, but you add something to give people something a little extra special, you get to be a little more creative with the arrangements.
Have you had a chance to spend time with some of the younger artists represented on the record — with Adele or Alicia Keys?
I haven’t had the occasion to meet Adele. She lives in England. So when I’m flying, or when she comes over here, perhaps we’ll have a chance. I think she’s a very fine singer, a very strong writer and performer. I call Alicia the girl of a thousand faces. Her appearance is always changing, so you never get used to what she looks like. She’s very stylized, but she has recorded some really great things. I especially like that old-school song she has, “You Don’t Know My Name,” and of course that New York song [“Empire State of Mind”]! I’m really glad she wrote that, because from time to time we need a new song for New York, for Detroit, for Chicago. And there really hadn’t been one sinceLiza Minnelli did “New York, New York,” so that was very timely.
When you listen to those young artists, do you feel like the future of singing is in good hands? And do you hear your own influence in their work?
I think they’re doing a very good job — Beyoncé, Alicia, Jennifer [Hudson]. I hear my influence sometimes; I know when my voice, when something I’m known for, has passed. But these young ladies, for the most part, are all very original.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Gustavo Caballero