Aretha Back On Top of the World! – This wasn’t supposed to be a milestone year in the Aretha Franklin annals.
But 2011, which began shrouded in health mystery before blossoming into a rousing resurgence for Franklin, turned out to be just that. And today the iconic Detroit singer is bright and upbeat as she reflects on a year of physical slimming and emotional growth.
“It’s a kind of growth that just comes with time,” she said. “And I’ve felt really, really great.”
The public wasn’t sure it would get to this point: This time last year, Franklin’s global fan base held its breath as she underwent an undisclosed medical procedure that forced her out of view for months. With friends such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson jetting to her side, the Christmas season — Franklin’s favorite time of the year — took on a downcast tone.
This yuletide finds the singer in dramatically different spirits. Amid a steady schedule of public appearances, she’s been exercising, carving out time for quiet domestic life and enjoying an inner peace. That’s not just Franklin’s take: Friends and associates say the new vibe is unmistakable.
She came back roaring
You might say the Queen of Soul is back to being Aretha. When she hasn’t been gearing up for the holidays at home in Bloomfield Hills, Franklin has spent her month in New York, where she’s been “pounding Fifth Avenue, pounding Madison Avenue, all the little shops on the side streets, investigating all the out-of-the-way places,” she said. “I look for the mom-and-pop shops — the good cheeseburgers. I always try to discover a new place here, wherever the best aromas are coming from.”
Next year will bring her 70th birthday and a handful of key projects, including a likely reunion with music executive Clive Davis and work on her own label, Aretha’s Records, where she hopes to groom a new generation of classical singers.