Carolyn Franklin: Someone You May Not Know

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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

 

RobFather X in a Smooth Groove

I hardly take video selfies but, when I do, I have to make sure that such videos will make me smile, otherwise I won’t post nor share them with anyone. (It’s the shyness factor in me.)
So yeah folks, this is me at work today [Sunday, August 20, 2017], doing my radio show. I’m grooving to one of my favorite tracks from the American R&B (rhythm and blues) and jazz-funk fusion band/group, The Blackbyrds. The song is Soft and Easy from their 1977 album, ‘Action(Click the song title or this You Tube link to listen to the entire song.)

– RobFather X

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© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell (b_Christopher John Boyle)Chris Cornell, American musician, singer, songwriter, rhythm guitarist transitioned last night, May 17, 2017.  He was born Christopher John Boyle in Seattle, Washington on July 20, 1964. Cornell was a key figure in the grunge rock movement of the 1990s as the primary songwriter, lead vocalist/frontman and rhythm guitarist of Seattle-based grunge/heavy metal/alternative rock/hard rock bands Sound Garden. Soundgarden, founded in 1984, became the first grunge music band to sign to a major recording label. Soundgarden’s success would help usher in a new genre of music and pave the way for acceptance and success of other grunge/alternative heavy metal/alternative rock/hard rock bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains (all three which are personal favorites)  and others. In 1990, Cornell would found and serve as lead vocalist to the Seattle-based grunge/alternative rock band Temple of the Dog. In 2001 Cornell, with a few members from the rap metal/funk metal/alternative metal band Rage Against the Machine (RATM) founded the now-defunct (?) hard rock/alternative rock/post-grunge, “supergroupAudioslave, based in Glendale (Los Angeles County), California. For more than three decades, in between band hiatuses and/or break-ups, musician Chris Cornell had been known for his numerous solo works, collaborations with other rock bands and music artists, and soundtrack contributions.

As of this writing, details regarding the sudden and tragic death of musician Chris Cornell continue to come in to news and music entertainment sources. Main sources like the Washington Post, the Associate Press, and Variety have reported that Cornell died Wednesday night, May 17th, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan while in the middle of a national tour. He was 52.

(NOTE: Details of this transition biography were retrieved from multiple sources for informational purposes and for posting to this blog and to my social media pages.)

RobFather X

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© RobFather X! Productions

TRANSITIONS: George Michael

George Michael – English singer, songwriter and record producer transitioned on Sunday, December 25, 2016.george-michael-faces-robfathers-edit

George Michael was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou on June 25, 1963 in East Finchley, north London, UK.

george-michael-andrew-ridgeley-of-whamKnown professionally as ‘George Michael’, Michael rose to fame with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley in the 1980s after forming in 1981 one half of the pop music duo Wham! (The duo/group was briefly known as Wham! UK in the United States due to a naming conflict with an American band.) Wham! would enjoy success until their breakup in 1986.

Michael was best known in the 1980s and 1990s with his style of post-disco dance-pop and had been characterized as a blue-eyed soul singer before going solo. Much of his material however drew more from middle-of-the-road pop than it did from R&B/soul music.

george-michael_faith-1987The release of George Michael’s multi-million selling solo albums, Faith (1987), the follow-up Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) and Older (1996) were – and remain  three of my often-played personal favorites from his solo efforts. As a solo artist, Michael sang music duets with such great R&B/soul music recording artists like Aretha Franklin (“I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)”), [the late] Whitney Houston (“If I Told You That) and sang with fellow English singer-songwriter, musician and composer Sir Elton John in a 1991 live concert performance covering John’s popular 1974 hit Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me. Additionally, Michael contributed background vocals to David Cassidy’s 1985 hit The Last Kiss”, as well as to Elton John’s 1985 successes Nikita and Wrap Her Up.

Michael sang on the original anti-famine charity super-group Band Aids 1984 recording of Do They Know It’s Christmas? – which became a UK Christmas number one single. He donated the profits from Wham! songs Last Christmas and Everything She Wantsto charity.

george-michael_listen-without-prejudice-vol_1-1990George Michael sold more than 100 million record albums worldwide throughout a career spanning almost four decades. He would win numerous music awards throughout his 35-year career, including three Brit Awards – winning Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations. He garnered seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2008, Billboard Magazine ranked Michael the 40th most successful artist on the Billboard Hot 100 Top All Time Artists list.

As of this writing, many qualified news sources have reported – and Michael’s publicist has stated, that singer George Michael died peacefully at his home property in Goring, Oxfordshire, England, Sunday afternoon on December 25, 2016. He was 53.

Thank you, George Michael for sharing your wonderful talents and for your great contributions to the music industry. Rest in peace, my good man. We’ll greatly miss you but your music and contributions to society shall live on.

(Note: Excerpts of this transition bio were adapted from various sources.)

– RobFather X

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© RobFather X! Productions

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.

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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

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© RobFather X! Productions