Singer Aretha Franklin is a legend not just because of her peerless voice, but because of the passion with which she sings.
The Queen of Soul has thankfully bounced back after undisclosed health problems last year, and she’s released a new CD, “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love,” exclusively via Walmart stores and Walmart.com. The album includes guest vocalist Ron Isley and Karen Clark-Sheard.
Given Franklin’s dominance in R&B, it got us to thinking about other younger, similarly-talented artists on today’s music scene that she’s influenced. Here’s our list of five current singers who owe their careers to the Queen and her success.
She is the most famous “American Idol” also-ran, supplanting many of the show’s winners (Ruben Studdard, anyone?) with both Grammy and Oscar wins. But it’s Hudson’s big, church-honed voice that puts her squarely in Aretha territory.
Hudson’s amazing vocal prowess recalls the days when it was mandatory for female R&B singers to have powerhouse voices. Franklin came up in a time that included Gladys Knight, Mavis Staples and Roberta Flack, among others. In many ways, Hudson is Franklin’s heir apparent, but for one major thing: Franklin is also a songwriter who plays piano. Hudson has, so far, not displayed as much of her writing skills. Hopefully, that will emerge in what is sure to be Hudson’s very bright future.
Like Aretha, Fantasia has endured her share of troubles at a relatively young age. Franklin was a teenage mother; so was Fantasia. Both started singing in the church. And both have used their turbulent personal lives to infuse their music with undeniable emotion. Fantasia may be less the diva than the often imperious Franklin, but give her some time.
Despite three well-received CDs, the extent of Fantasia’s extraordinary talent has not yet been revealed. On tour last summer, the 26-year-old showed her versatility with a show that included music from multiple genres, as well as her own hits. Her rawness and lack of vanity put her right on the path to Aretha-like “respect.”
No, she doesn’t come from the African-American church tradition, but Aguilera has proven over and over again that color doesn’t matter when it comes to talent. Out of her peers, she is arguably the most gifted pure vocalist. Aguilera has no problem expanding genres by singing pop, jazz and R&B, but it’s in R&B where she truly shines. Her incredible runs and her song interpretation are on par with the Queen herself. Aguilera’s ability to genre-hop allows her to be more of a mainstream success, but if she ever decided to do an exclusively R&B album, no one could question her considerable chops.