First the bad news. . .the special “Divas Classics” album that was to be released by the Queen of Soul last week has been delayed. The good news is that she does not disappoint with the release of a single from the album, a cover of Adele’s career-breaking hit “Rolling In the Deep.” Aretha brought the house down while singing the song live on David Letterman on September 29. At 72, the soul legend continues to boast a range that finds her squalling to the heavens and moaning to the depths of her vast vocal range as in the early days of her career. Of course, “Re Re” puts her own treatment on the classic, adding the Supreme’s “Ain’t No mountain High Enough” on the end.
One of Franklin’s former background singers Cissy Houston contributed to BG vocals during the Letterman appearance, but looked like she would rather be anywhere but on that stage. As the other singers moved in sync, other than rolling her eyes, Houston was nearly motionless. I suspect she missed a rehearsal or was peeved because her role was not fore. In one part of the video it appears she flubbed the lyrics. Far from a novice, Cissy has history with Aretha, who was the late Whitney Houston’s god mother. A well tooled songbird, Ms. Cissy sang the high notes on Franklin’s original recording of “Ain’t No Way”) and it looked like the vocalist standing next to her was singing soprano in this performance
Cissy’s stand offish attitude did nothing to diminish the performance of the first single from Aretha’s forthcoming project, although it may have contributed to the video’s swell in views. With over one million You Tube views in a week, Aretha is well on her way to making “Rolling In the Deep” a hit again. Debuting at #47, Aretha’s rendition of the British singer’s classic is far from being a smash, but it has made Franklin a record breaker. In fact, according to Contact Music the Adele cover made Franklin the first woman to score 100 hits on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart since 1958. James Brown, Jay Z and Lil’ Wayne are the only other acts to land 100+ hits on the Billboard chart.
Co-produced in part by Babyface and Andre 3000, “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” will be released on October 21. The 10 track set represents multiple generations of powerful vocalists such as the late Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand, Alicia and Sinead O’Connor among others.
“Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” Track Listing
1. At Last (Etta James)
2. Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
3. Midnight Train to Georgia (Gladys Knight and the Pips)
4. I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
5. People (Barbra Streisand)
6. No One (Alicia Keys)
7. I’m Every Woman (Chaka Khan) / Respect
8. Teach Me Tonight (Dinah Washington)
9. You Keep Me Hangin’ On (The Supremes)
10. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinéad O’Connor)