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

 

Aretha Franklin and the Reality of Life

Many people – and supposedly even Aretha Franklin herself, are/have been asking for prayers for her reportedly gravely ill health. The fact is, prayers do not work and will not work to change her situation. There is zero evidence of prayers ever being answered on the supernatural or so-called “divine” level. Only the science of medicine, Aretha’s physical ability to heal, and her own will power to live can ever have a hope of improved health. It is, has always been, and will always be the same as anyone else in any ill or poor health situation.

Aretha Franklin-5

As much as I may love and respect Aretha Franklin and much of her work, I only understand and can accept one fact that’s based on the reality of life: when it’s Aretha’s time to transition (i.e., die) it will simply happen. While some readers may consider my words to be “cruel and insensitive” (which isn’t at all my intent), it doesn’t change the truth of the matter; one which awaits us all someday.

– RobFather X

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.)
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© RobFather X! Productions

Remembering Prince (A Personal)

Facebook Profile-1I had been spending this entire Friday evening trying to select some of the best songs from Prince to play on my radio show later this morning. I confess: it has been very hard for me to do, especially for a show that’s just shy of being three hours long. I’m not worried about what Prince songs I’ll select for my playlist. You see, since my show Saturday At The Oldies W/The RobFather (SAO) has been LIVE on the air for the past eight years, I’ve always played music according to how I’m feeling on the day of the show. When I go on the air several hours from now it will be no different. Still, as I listen to various songs from Prince in the [limited] “Prince Music” category of my music library, I can’t help but have this continuing feeling of disbelief that Prince is gone. He’s GONE! When I woke yesterday morning Prince’s passing was the first thing on my mind.

I’ll never forget how I felt when James Brown died ten years ago. He was a lifelong favorite of mine since my childhood. (By the way, the 10th anniversary of the Godfather of Soul’s transition will be this December 25. James Brown (sm)Mark your calendar.) I haven’t forgotten the feeling of loss when Minnie [Riperton], Marvin [Gaye], Tupac [Shakur], Reverend James [Cleveland], Barry [White], Lou [Rawls], Luther [Vandross], Michael [Jackson], Teddy [Pendergrass], Teena [Marie], Walter [Hawkins], Bobby [Womack], Andraé [Crouch], Natalie [Cole], David [Bowie], Glenn [Frey] and Maurice [White], to name several of my favorites music artists who left us in their prime; at least in my 55 year-old mind any age younger than 80 is still prime. Sorry not sorry but I wasn’t that great a fan of [the late] Whitney [Houston]. Many people have and/or want to put her on the same level as Michael and Prince in terms of music greatness. Well, I mean no shade to the late Ms. Houston – who indeed has a place of iconic greatness in the music world but I can’t agree with that elevated appointment of glorified status. You see, I’m saving that spot for when the still-reigning Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin transitions. And after Aretha transitions or perhaps before, Whitney’s status on the level of icon worship must still come after that of still-living music legends like Diana [Ross], Dionne [Warwick], Cher, Patti [LaBelle], Nancy [Wilson] and Elton [John] and several other music icons whose names escape me at the moment. Again, these are my personal assessment statuses; you’re free to observe your own.

I’m often reminded of my own mortality whenever my favorite music artists leave this existence. I’m not ashamed to admit that in recent years, it scares me a little but not for long. You see, as a non-religious man and atheist I’m kool with the inevitability of death but like anyone, I do not look forward to it. I want – and intend to live as long as I’m able.

Michael Jackson, PrinceI tell you; sometimes I play with the sick idea that guys like Michael and Prince were playing some kind of sick joke on us when each passed away respectively, but of course, I know better. I was a seventeen year-old young adult when Elvis [Presley] died and twenty years old when John [Lennon] was murdered but I recall each of those events of some forty years ago as though they had happened last week. I recall how many people reacted when Elvis and John transitioned. Some of them were feeling as I am now – bad – and having fantasies of denial which stems from one who received shocking newElvis Presley, John Lennons of the respective passing of their favorite and much-loved music (or television or film) legend. I remember well how the world mourned the deaths of Elvis and Lennon. At the time I had no idea that years after their deaths, I too would be struck by such feelings of loss, particularly for someone I had admired, whose music I loved but who I’d never met. I recall a number of neighbors, classmates and parents of friends who said that Elvis and John had intentionally dropped out of their respective limelight for a while because they simply got tired of dealing with their fame and need to take a long break. If that had been true of them I wonder if we would forgive them when they returned to the scene. Would we forgive Michael and Prince if they came back to us?

I did indeed finish drawing the tentative music playlist for today’s radio show. I had originally planned a tribute in honor of what would have been Luther Vandross 65th birthday. Sorry, Luther but many of my listeners will expect me to play Prince’s music today. They know that playing a song from Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) and sometimes War is a mandatory weekly thing on my show and has been since Saturday At The Oldies W/The RobFather (SAO) premiered eight years ago. Since Prince had so much great music and my show is so short, I’ll to play at least two or three songs on each SAO show in the weeks to come. I’ll make it up to Luther in a future SAO show.

I’ll be wearing my purple golf shirt in honor of Prince when I go on the air today. It’s the least I can do in Prince’s honor. I think he will be pleased.

– RobFather X
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© RobFather X! Productions

 

Prince – Transition Controversy

Prince Controversy (re)
As expected, the GoFundMe requests from people to raise money to travel to Prince’s funeral and the “Illuminati” conspiracy theories surrounding the who and the why of his death have already begun. Actually, they began shortly after news of his death saturated social media networks yesterday. The man’s dead body hasn’t been cold a good 48 hours and already people are acting the fool. I’m not surprised. These happenings are simply part of or are in line with the kind of thing I talked about in my previous (and seemingly unpopular) posted article written yesterday regarding the Court of Public Speculation.

Until official toxicology reports are complete and a final cause of death is made to the public, I suppose we can expect about two, perhaps three to four more weeks of what I’m calling “speculation winter” surrounding the death of Prince Rogers Nelson. It’s déjà vu; we’ve been here before with Michael Jackson. Remember?
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If you are, as they say, “feeling some kind of way(Ugh; I’ve always hated that silly-ass phrase) and wish to send money to help someone go to Prince’s funeral – an event which, as of this post, has not yet been determined, I advise that you beware as to whom and where you send your (or someone else’s) money. As for the growing conspiracy theories about how Prince died and who or what caused his death, here’s my position:
Unless you have solid evidence to support your claims or that which “you heard” via Rumor Control, I would ask that you please save us your sloppy and amateurish detective work. And please stop referring to the so-called “Illuminati” as though you know who or what that is all about. Instead of thinking and conducting research of facts, some people read too damn much of the wrong thing and listen much too closely to the wrong people. Geez.

– RobFather X
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© RobFather X! Productions