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: 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

 

The Passing of Prince and the Court of Public Speculation

For most of the day various news media outlets along with social media networks have been putting out slightly different versions of how Prince died and/or what caused his death. Prince- the hits -(just face)Some of the reports from those sources may have some truth but we can’t know for sure, at least not this soon (or as I write this article). There are reports saying Prince had been ill with the flu for several days. Some reports gave reference to a time when Prince admitted to having suffered with bouts of depression, while others are saying that because he is a Jehovah’s Witness, his religious beliefs kept him from getting or accepting medical treatment when it was needed. I saw one post today from someone who thinks Prince may have had a bout of depression that was so serious that he contemplated committing suicide. The person based his assumption on a news story that told of Prince inviting a bunch of people to his house recently. The person said that party was for Prince to say “farewell”, for unbeknownst to his houseguests, he had already planned on checking out from this life.
*sigh* I can’t with people on social media and their ignorant and still-unproven assumptions. Will everyone just shut the fuck up already?

CHECK IT: I think we should not speculate on what we heard, may have heard, are currently hearing, reading, have been told by someone or what we might assume happen (based on the word of someone else), concerning how Prince passed…that is, until a final and official coroner’s report is released and made public. That finding often takes a day or two, sometimes longer. As of this post, no final report has been issued regarding how Prince died. I don’t care what the news media is reporting. I recall similar speculations made and so-called “factual reports” issued years ago when Michael Jackson died. We all learned later what really happened to Michael, didn’t we?

Prince-concert-1I suggest we give it a few days or so and see what the official report is on how Prince died and what, if anything, caused his death. Until then, we need to take everything we read and/or hear this soon after his death with a grain of caution. Everyone – including Prince’s family, close friends and staff are most likely still in a state of shock. I know I am… and I never knew the man on any personal level! We must consider that there are people with certain self-interests who are eager and willing to publish or announce anything to the public simply to get attention and/or perhaps become “the source” of information…information which could be very wrong.

As I do concerning many things read or seen on television, the radio and most especially on the Internet and in social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, I warn against blindly accepting certain news, tabloid reports, rumors and hearsay, and against passing along that which has not yet been shown or proven as fact.

–RobFather X
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© RobFather X! Productions