I was listening to public radio last night in the way back from the supermarket and wine store where I was picking up stuff for Shabbat kiddush (blessing over wine) and dinner when I heard a piece on the influence of gospel on blues. Not singing gospel, preaching it. The program was demonstrating how a great preacher, Rev. C. L. Franklin, who preached in the fifties, influenced Bobby Bland. Listening to the sound of,this man preaching was amazing.

This is not the cut from last night, but this is what he sounded like:


I'm not suggesting you worry about the content, just the sound and the delivery.

Some children grow up watching their fathers and trying to learn their lessons but don't do such a great job of it. Billy Graham begat Franklin Graham. George Romney begat Mitt Romney. Frank Sinatra begat Frank jr. George H. W. Bush begat George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush.

But what happens when someone growing up around a father like Rev. Franklin not only learns the lessons but inherits the talent?

The answer is that we get very, very lucky.


I'm writing this because of how much the first video says about where the second came from. You might question my choice of video here, but I was looking for an optimal time window, old enough to show experience but young enough to be at the height of power. This video nails that confluence.

Views: 193

Comment by Julie Johnson on November 5, 2016 at 8:19am

..and you know who Murphy Brown's dad is too, right? 

Comment by JMac1949 Today on November 5, 2016 at 8:28am

Edgar Bergin or was it Charlie McCarthy?? ;-)

Comment by koshersalaami on November 5, 2016 at 8:44am

Charlie McCarthy was considered her brother when she was a kid, which she considered a royal pain in the ass. 

Sometimes families go further than that. There was a famous Borscht Belt musical comedian by the name of Mickey Katz. You can find him on YouTube. He had a hit with a Yiddish accented version of the Davey Crockett theme. His son is Joel Grey, who made his reputation in Cabaret. His daughter is Jennifer Grey, who starred in Dirty Dancing. 

To use another examlple, this one just two generations, there was a major Brpadwau star bu the name of John Raitt. His daughter Bonnie made her name in a very different musical field. 

Comment by JMac1949 Today on November 5, 2016 at 8:55am

"Brpadwau"... the internationally infamous theatrical district of Freedonia?

Comment by koshersalaami on November 5, 2016 at 9:07am

I'm typing on an iPad which just screws things up. The mechanical keyboard I have for it has stopped working, so that's how "Broadway"came out

Actually, different problem

also working on laptop, but it shows some website pages in tiny print. I have trouble reading what I'm typing. 

Comment by Ron Powell on November 5, 2016 at 9:42am

Your selection is OK, but it is about the studio audience of one and the overwhelmingly white TV audience who were more about the comedic skit than the music. The music was intended for the success of the program as a comedy performance..

Hence Aretha's piano accompaniment, which is pure gospel, is what makes the piece work as a reflection of the influence of her father.

Here are two pieces that back in the day we would call takin' it  back home, or takin' it to church.

Performed for the audience for which the music was intended, and  to which  the music and delivery directly speak:


Comment by Ron Powell on November 5, 2016 at 9:59am

One piece is pure is church, the other has so much gospel in it that with a change in lyrics it could have easily been sung in church.

The reverse practice was done so often and so well,  that many very religious black families would eschew R&B and Soul as the Devil's music:

Comment by koshersalaami on November 5, 2016 at 10:09am

I assure you, Ron, that the audience for that performance was not enjoying Aretha primarily for her comedic value. They were enjoying her because she utterly kicked ass. The comedy was a fringe benefit. The episode was about how fanatical a fan Murphy Brown was, and Aretha demonstrated why. No one left that theater thinking: Wow, Aretha was funny. They left there thinking, like I did while watching,

What I wouldn't give to be on that piano bench. 

Yes, the comedy for my context is a bit of a distraction and is a drawback to my choice, including for me, but the intimacy of the performance, not to mention the video quality, more than make up for that. And no, I don't buy that the only part of that performance that showed her father's influence was her piano performance. 

That being said, I appreciate your video. 

Comment by Dharmabummer on November 5, 2016 at 2:21pm

Amen! I gave up organized religion a while ago but I am always ready to be 'taken to church' by a great orator/preacher or singer. It stirs something deep within. 

And (a belated?) Good Shabbos. 

Comment by Ron Powell on November 5, 2016 at 4:06pm

Aretha Franklin could "kick ass" singing at a,whisper in a New,York subway.

The point and context of the entire episode gives a somewhat different perspective.

I didn't suggest that her piano accompaniment was the ONLY aspect of her performance that reflected her father's influence. I said that that's what makes the piece work as a manifestation of said influence because of the gospel strain. ..

Her delivery in the program is somewhat subdued as compared to the delivery in  concerts where the audience consists primarily of the people for whom her music is intended and to whom her music and dlivery speaks.

It's still signature Aretha, such is the unique power and strength of her gift.

The two pieces I posted in comments here were done in 1971 at the Filmore in Detroit

This piece was done overseas in Copenhagen.1968...

I  still believe that her full throated delivery is more intense and  more strongly reflective of her "roots" than the performance on the TV show....

However, like you, I would have made a deal with the devil to have been seated on that bench as she played and sang....


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