Aretha Franklin's classic album 'Lady Soul' turns 50 today


On January 22, 1968, Aretha Franklin released "Lady Soul." - PHOTO COURTESY OF ALL MUSIC.
  • Photo courtesy of All Music.
  • On January 22, 1968, Aretha Franklin released "Lady Soul."

Aretha Franklin has long been considered the “Queen of Soul” and her Detroit upbringing has always kept her close to our hearts. Though she has become a polarizing figure in recent years — perhaps due to her controversial National Anthem performance at the Lions Thanksgiving game in 2016 — Detroiters still remember her lasting musical statement, released 50 years ago today.

On Jan. 22, 1968, Atlantic Records released Lady Soul, Franklin's 14th album. Just a year before, Franklin had topped the R&B charts with “Baby I Love You” from Aretha Arrives, her breakout album. Her growing popularity even earned her a spot on Time magazine’s cover in June 1968. Stepping back into Atlantic Studios in New York City, Franklin aimed to repeat the success of her recent hit and prove herself as a force within popular music.

Aretha Franklin on the cover of Time Magazine in June of 1968. - PHOTO FROM TIME MAGAZINE.
  • Photo from Time Magazine.
  • Aretha Franklin on the cover of Time Magazine in June of 1968.

What came out was an album that produced two hit singles — “Chain of Fools” and “You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman),” co-written by Carole King — and climbed the Billboard Album Charts.

Beyond the numbers, Franklin’s sound was continuing to push the boundaries of gospel, R&B, rock, and soul. Elements of each genre are found here, proving Franklin’s flexibility as a singer and songwriter.

In recent years, Lady Soul has been recognized for its impact on contemporary music beyond just R&B and has been dubbed a classic album by the likes of Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.

Revisit this classic album from Detroit’s favorite diva, released on this day 50 years ago:

Anthony Spak is an editorial intern with Metro Times and a recent graduate of Oakland University’s journalism program. Spak spends most of his time in Detroit playing music or eating gyros at Golden Fleece.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.