Niagara Gazette — It’s not everyday one gets to interview a performer with more than 20 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and is the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That is just a small sample of the achievements of Aretha Franklin, who is arguably the greatest female singer of all time, and undeniably one of the most influential women in popular music.
Aretha Franklin returns to the area for what promises to be another sellout performance at the Seneca Niagara Showroom. It not only marks a return to the area as a performer, has strong ties to Western New York. She lived in Buffalo when she was a child.
“We lived on Glenwood Avenue when my father was pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church, and my mother worked as a nurse at Buffalo General. I have very fond memories of Buffalo,” she said during an exclusive phone interview last week.
When I was doing my research for the interview I found the address and looked to see if the house is still there. It is and I gave her the house number.
“That is fabulous! We were going to drive around the Buffalo area either before or after the show to look for the house but I couldn’t remember the address. Voila, you gave it to me!”
Legend had it that Franklin’s first public singing performance was in Buffalo at her father’s church, but Ms. Franklin couldn’t remember if she ever sang at the church in Buffalo. Her father mover to Detroit where Aretha did begin her singing career singing gospel songs at her father’s church.
Franklin signed her first recording contract in 1960 and a year later her major label debut, “Aretha: With the Ray Bryant Combo,” was released when she was just 18 years old.