Carolyn Franklin: Someone You May Not Know

Carolyn Franklin-1

NOTE: The article here inspired me to write the article you are about to read.

I had long known of Aretha Franklin’s younger sister Carolyn Franklin (May 13, 1944 – April 25, 1988). Carolyn herself was a singer and a songwriter and had both written for and sang backup on several of older sister Aretha’s songs. What I did not know was that Carolyn was very likely “family” (a LGBT code word meaning that one is gay or self-identifies as being of a non-heterosexual orientation in the LGBT+ community). Read this article link and this article link then continue reading my article. Perhaps you’ll see why the information about Carolyn has significance.

You see, this article about Carolyn Franklin was posted on Facebook shortly after Aretha Franklin’s death on August 16, 2018. Along with the countless number of postings on multiple social media networks that were made about Aretha, there were several naysayers on those networks who felt that talking about Aretha’s late sister Carolyn – and making particular mention of her sexual orientation – especially so soon after Aretha’s death, was inappropriate and insensitive. Unlike some of the people on social media who had negatively commented on the article, I saw nothing wrong with the article author writing and sharing that tidbit of information about Carolyn Franklin nor with that author making mention of her non-heterosexual orientation. It’s simply something I’m sure many people did not know and perhaps would appreciate knowing. Still, regardless of any appreciation factor, why hide the alleged fact that Carolyn was or may have been lesbian? While Carolyn Franklin possibly being lesbian is not now nor should it ever be an issue in and of itself, that information either does or may have particular significance for those of us who are not only fans of the late Aretha Franklin but who also happened to be either non-heterosexual or heterosexual allies of the LGBT+ community; we who realize the sad yet unfortunate fact that we live in a country and a world where there are still many people who have bigoted and senselessly personal, socially negative and/or religiously negative attitudes against people who are non-heterosexual and/or about non-heterosexuality itself.

A person’s sexuality should never be the main or primary focus of who a person is, although it is an important if not significant part of who that person is. (I hope that makes sense.) In many ways, a person’s sexuality can often help develop, perhaps even help define a person’s character and personality. In short, I feel that a person’s sexuality/sexual orientation should no more be hidden or suppressed, nor should it ever be mocked or made shameful than any other aspect of a person’s nature and humanity.

I believe that had Carolyn Franklin lived during the last twenty to thirty years, she may have been a LGBT rights activist or spokesperson for LGBT civil rights causes and struggles for acceptance, equality, and of course, respect. Perhaps she was or had wanted to be such a person but, as of this writing, I am not aware of nor can I confirm that sort of information. Still, Carolyn’s alleged feelings for women are either expressed or implied in some of the songs she wrote. I also believe her older sister Aretha had openly respected and supported her gay sister whom she loved, just as she (Aretha) was known to have openly loved, supported, and treated with respect many other people – some of them famous like herself, regardless of their non-heterosexual orientation.

In summary, the article I’m discussing is simply about Carolyn Franklin, a deceased younger sibling of the late Aretha Franklin. Carolyn Franklin was someone who was important in Aretha’s life; a person who had made a name for herself as a song writer and recording artist, and who had contributed to Aretha’s fame, as well as to music history itself. Any biographical revelations about Carolyn Franklin should no more be ignored nor rejected from public awareness than the biographical histories of her sisters Aretha and Erma and their father, the late Reverend C.L. Franklin.

I disagree with those persons who choose or have chosen to take the article in negative form and/or who perceive it as being some kind of post-death ugly attack on Aretha Franklin’s fame and contributions to society, if not perhaps upon the late Aretha Franklin herself. It simply isn’t like that at all in my view. Anyone who knows and respects anything about Aretha’s family roots and life history would not read more into the article than what it is.

Click here to see and hear more biographical information on Carolyn Franklin and her sisters Aretha and Erma, in the Soul Facts video (on YouTube) or watch it below.

– RobFather

 

TRANSITIONS: Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was born Aretha Louise Franklin on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. She grew up in Detroit Michigan. Aretha was known world-wide as the undisputed “Queen of Soul”. After a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Aretha Franklin transitioned Thursday, August 16, 2018, in her Detroit, Michigan home. She was 76.

Although Aretha and I have never met, my entire life was filled with listening to both her gospel and her secular music. As such, I came to love her voice, her singing style, and of course, her music.

Aretha Franklin-1 (RFX- edit)Aretha Franklin was indeed an icon, a legend, a musical genius, and a musical goddess, if you will. She was also a humanitarian – real person in terms of her character, her down-to-earth attitude, and her common touch with her community. Although Aretha will sorely and surely be missed by me and by millions of people the world over, her legacy will live on.

I am grateful and thankful for Aretha Franklin and for her countless yet selfless contributions to the entertainment and music industries, most especially to the [U.S.] Civil Rights movement, and to human society overall. I love you.

– RobFather

 

TRANSITIONS: Kashif

Kashif (Kashif Saleem aka Michael Jones) – American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer, artist, composer, author, director and educator – transitioned on Sunday, September 25, 2016.

kashif-album-collage_created-by-robfather-x-2016-kashif-center
Kashif was born Michael Jones on December 26, 1959 in Harlem, New York and was raised in the Brooklyn foster care system. Under his given birth name Michael Jones, Kashif was a member of the music groups The Bus Boys and Artists United Against Apartheid, though he was/is best known for being with the 1970s American disco/funk band B.T. Express (originally named Brooklyn Transit Express). It was B.T. Express who recruited him at age 15 to be their keyboardist and vocalist. As Michael Jones, Kashif is credited with performing on B.T. Express song hits such as Express and Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied), among others.

Michael Jones/Kashif initially launched his career as a multi-instrumentalist. Among other instruments, he played the piano, flute, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. Kashif left B.T. Express in 1978 to begin pursuing a solo career in music. It was either during or shortly before this time when he studied Islam and would change his name from Michael Jones to Kashif Saleem. [‘Kashif’ is an Arabic name meaning “discoverer” and “inventor” and ‘Saleem’ means “one who comes in peace”.] While solo, Kashif used his talents to play keyboards for R&B music artist Stephanie Mills before segueing into studio work on projects with other R&B artists like Nona Hendryx, Gloria Gaynor, Melba Moore, Tavares and The Four Tops, among many others.

Kashif, who had already crafted his own distinctive sound (a sound I would know anywhere), would sign with Arista Records in 1983 where he enjoyed success as a solo artist. His signature use of synthesizer technology paired with lyrics of love and devotion helped defined urban sounds following the exit of disco music. This helped him earned several awards, including two Grammy nominations for his second album, ‘Send Me Your Love’ (1984) – which has long been and remains a personally loved, often-played favorite of mine and another nomination for his 1985 album ‘Condition of the Heart’. Together with fellow musical genius and famed recording artist Stevie Wonder, Kashif is considered a R&B pioneer and synthesizer master in urban music thanks to his precise synthesizer technology approach and the introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in his production work.

Kashif wrote and/or performed a number of successful songs for and/or with artists like Whitney Houston (‘Thinking About You’, ‘You Give Good Love’), Evelyn “Champagne” King (‘I’m In Love’, ‘Love Come Down’, ‘Betcha She Don’t Love You’, ‘Back to Love’), Howard Johnson (‘So Fine’), Meli’sa Morgan (‘Love Changes’), Stacy Lattisaw, Melba Moore, Average White Band, Jermaine Jackson, Janet Jackson, Barry White, Johnny Kemp, Mariah Carey, Dionne Warwick (‘Reservations for Two’), Al Jarreau, guitarist George Benson (‘Inside Love (So Personal)’), Will Downing, The Stylistics and others. Kashif is credited with launching the career of best-selling jazz saxophonist legend, Kenny G with whom he has written, played instruments and/or sang several songs. In addition to his work in music, Kashif is also a successful director and best-selling author of the book Everything You’d Better Know About The Record Industry.

As of this writing, reports say that Kashif apparently died of natural causes in his home in Venice, Los Angeles in California. However, the official cause of death has yet to be determined. Kashif Saleem was 56 years old.

Many of us remember Kashif and his music and are very grateful for the sharing of his talents and influence as well as the many musical and humanitarian contributions he has given to society.

REFERENCE NOTE: Excerpts of this transition biography were adapted or retrieved from various sources, including Soulwalking.co.uk (which, in my opinion, is usually a good “go-to” source of accurate information on R&B artists of color), Billboard.com, Vibe.com, IMDb.com and AllMusic.com, among others.

– RobFather X

_____________________________________________________________

© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: Billy Paul

Billy Paul transitioned today, Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Billy Paul (born Paul Williams) RobFather's edit

American Grammy Award-winning soul, R&B, pop and jazz singer Billy Paul was born Paul Williams in [North] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1934. He had been an active singer in the Philadelphia area where he was raised since the 1950s. Paul was one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by the producer/song-writing team Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. Under Gamble and Huff, founders of Philadelphia International Records (PIR) Paul’s career prospered.

Billy Paul began his singing career when he was eleven, appearing first on a local radio station then known as WPEN (now WKDN) in Philadelphia. He attended the West Philadelphia Music School and the Granoff School of Music for his formal vocal training. As he got older and continued singing, Paul’s popularity grew and led to appearances in jazz clubs and at college campuses nationally. He changed his birth name to ‘Billy Paul’ to avoid confusion with other music artists such as songwriter Paul Williams and saxophonist Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams. These early experiences led to further signing opportunities including appearing in concert with such music greats as Charlie “Bird” Parker, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, The Impressions, Sammy Davis, Jr., Roberta Flack and a brief stint singing with the group Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.

Paul was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957, being stationed in Germany with rock and roll music legend Elvis Presley and actor/singer Gary Crosby (son of crooner Bing Crosby). Paul and [Gary] Crosby started a band called the Jazz Blues Symphony Band (whom he and Crosby tried to get Elvis to join) and sang with the 7th Army Band. These opportunities allowed Paul to continue his music passion until his dischargeBillie Holiday from military service when he resumed his professional singing career.

Paul was usually identified by his diverse vocal style which ranged from mellow and soulful to low and raspy. He once stated that his style of singing was particularly influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Nina Simone, Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson and most especially by Billie Holiday, whom he said was his “biggest influence” in developing his vocal singing style.

Billy-Paul_Me and Mrs Jones_45 recordBilly Paul is best known for his U.S. top-charted 1972 hit, Me and Mrs. Jones. A classic confessional tale of infidelity, Paul’s unorthodox style enhanced the ballad’s sense of guilt.
Me and Mrs. Jones
would receive newfound attention decades later when singer Michael Bublé released a cover version in 2007. Other popular releases from Billy Paul include Thanks For Saving My Life (1974) and Let’s Make A Baby (1976) – a controversial song (of a few sung by Paul) at the time of its release whose lyrics drew the protest of Reverend Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH who help lead the protest to ban or alter the track lyrics of the song due to its supposed or perceived “obscene and negative” message. Another hit was Paul’s 1977 cover of Let ’Em In (1977) – which was a soulful, funky adaptation cover of the original 1976 hit from [former Beatles member] Paul McCartney and his then-band ‘Wings’. Paul’s cover of Let ’Em In mentioned notable African-American figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Louis Armstrong in lieu of some of the people named in McCartney’s original.

Paul had continued to make excellent records long but his last chart entry to date came in 1980 with You’re My Sweetness. He recorded for Total Experience and Ichiban Records in the 1980s and would continue to perform throughout the world in addition to running his own production company. He announced his retirement in 1989 on stage while in London. However, like many artists before him, he could not resist the temptation to continue to play live shows and record.

Billy Paul-1Paul released fifteen albums (not counting a 1973 reissue of Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club) between 1968 and 1988. While he never again matched the mainstream success of Me and Mrs. Jones, he is recognized by many as a pioneer and important figure in soul music, known for his socially conscious lyrics. In 2008, Billy Paul was inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame.

Billy Paul was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been hospitalized the week before his death at Philadelphia’s Temple University Hospital. He was 81 when he transitioned on Sunday afternoon April 24, 2016 at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey.

We thank artist Billy Paul for his many years contribution to the music industry.

– RobFather X

(Excerpts of this transition bio were adapted from various sources.)
_____________________________________________________________
© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: Prince

Prince transitioned today, Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Prince-solo (re)
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7, 1958, Prince was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor, serving as a major figure in popular music for over three decades. He was renowned as an innovator and was widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence and wide vocal range. He was widely regarded as the pioneer of the Minneapolis sound. His music combined rock, R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop.

Prince developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song at age seven. After recording songs with his cousin’s band 94 East, the 19-year-old Prince recorded several unsuccessful demo tapes before releasing his debut album ‘For You’ in 1978. His 1979 album ‘Prince’ went platinum due to the success of the singles “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover“. His next three records ‘Dirty Mind’ (1980), ‘Controversy’ (1981), and ‘1999’ (1982) continued his success, showcasing Prince’s trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and incorporation of elements of funk, dance and rock music. In 1984, Prince began referring to his backup band as The Revolution and released ‘Purple Rain’ which served as the soundtrack to his film debut of the same name. A prolific songwriter, Prince in the 1980s wrote songs for a number of artists and produced work by many other acts, often under pseudonyms such as “Jamie Starr”, “Christopher”, “Joey Coco”, “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” to name a few. In 1993, Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol (O(+>) also known as the “Love Symbol”. In 2000, he began referring to himself as “Prince” again.

Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Rolling Stone magazine has ranked Prince at number 27 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

Prince with love symbol guitar

My heart is broken over the news of Prince’s transition…a most original, talented, elegant and beautiful man. There will only be one Prince – one “Purple One”. Reports continue to be broadcast covering the life, career and passing of Prince. I suspect such reports will continue for days to come. Though I was a fan of Prince’s music, becoming such since his debut in 1978, I did not know the man on a personal basis – though I would have loved to! I cannot possibly give Prince’s transition, his life or his career and contributions to music, to the community and to the world the justice it so richly deserves in a Facebook post. I invite you…no, I encourage you to search the internet yourself and read and learn all you can about man named Prince. Those of you who consider yourselves “hardcore” fans of Prince should read too. You might learn something new about the man. Prince’s story is nothing short of fascinating.

Prince was 57 when he transitioned at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, according to reports. Prince will be missed on the physical plane but his music and his very huge influence in various music genres will forever live on.

Thank you, Prince for enriching all of our lives through your music and talent. Rest in peace my good man.

– RobFather X
(Excerpts of this transition bio article were adapted from Wikipedia and other sources.)
________________________________________________________________
© RobFather X! Productions