How Aretha Franklin Fully Incorporated Her Gospel Roots Into a Distinctive Sound of Her Own

With the sad news of the great Aretha Franklin’s death on August 16, 2018 at the age of 76, Vox put together a beautiful tribute showing how her distinctively brilliant style was formed. Forever known to all as the “Queen of Soul“, Franklin incorporated her strong gospel roots into songs that weren’t necessarily originally written in that style. Vox editor Estelle Caswell brilliantly contrasted the very different style of Dusty Springfield with that of Aretha Franklin’s in a song they both performed a year apart from one another.

The top is British soul singer, Dusty Springfield’s, most iconic song “Son of a Preacher Man”Dusty and Aretha shared the same producer, Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records. The song first went to Aretha, who ended up passing on it. Dusty took it, and in early 1969 her version rose to the top of the charts. A year later, Aretha released a cover of it and it sounded completely different. Where Dusty started with a smooth electric guitar riff, Aretha started on the piano. An instrument that, along with the Hammond organ, played a central role in the sound of gospel music and her career. The fingers and the voice are all part of that same tradition.

“Son of a Preacher Man” – Aretha Franklin

“Son of a Preacher Man” – Dusty Springfield

RIP Aretha. Nothing but R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.