Thursday, July 17, 2008

Payin' Homage

When Aretha signed with Atlantic Records in 1966 she brought her sanging sisters along for the ride. The Franklin sisters, daughters of the legendary Rev. C.L Franklin, grew up singing in Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church. Erma and Carolyn sang backing vocals on many of Aretha's Atlantic recordings. It was Carolyn along with Aretha who coined the famous "sock-it-to-me" phrase in "Respect." Carolyn would eventually embark on a solo recording career.Carolyn signed to RCA and at times went by the name Baby Dynamite. It wasn't easy being in the shadows of Aretha Franklin, Carolyn's career never really took off. In a span of twelve years she released four albums, Chain Reaction, Baby Dynamite, If You Want Me, and I'd Rather Be Lonely, and gained moderate success on the charts with songs such as "It's True I'm Gonna Miss You," "As Long As You're There," "You Are Everything," and "I Can't Help Feeling So Blue."A talented songwriter, Carolyn composed "Ain't No Way," "Angel" and a laundry list of other songs for Aretha. As you may recall, the opening dialogue of "Angel" goes as such: "I got a call the other day. It was my sister Carolyn, saying, 'Aretha, come by when you can, I got something that I want to say.' And when I got there, she said, 'You know, rather than go through a long drawn-out thing, I think the melody on the box will help me explain.'" Patti LaBelle, Nina Simone, O.V Wright, Mavis Staples, Percy Sledge and others have all recorded Carolyn Franklin compositions. Carolyn sang with her sisters for the last time on Aretha's 1987 gospel album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. The sisters sang "Surely God Is Able," "Jesus Hears Every Prayer," and "Packing Up, Getting Ready To Go," songs associated with Clara Ward and The Ward Singers. Sadly, Aretha is the only surviving Franklin sister. Carolyn left for glory on April 25, 1998 and Erma passed away September 7, 2002.