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Aretha Franklin is back with holiday tunes

She’s putting her own stamp on her holiday favorites with the first Christmas CD of her legendary career, “This Christmas.”
/ Source: The Associated Press

When the holidays draw near, the first songs Aretha Franklin starts playing from her yuletide collection are “This Christmas” and “Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas (Without the One You Love).”

“Those are favorites in the Franklin households,” the Queen of Soul says.

These days, she’s putting her own stamp on her holiday favorites with the first Christmas CD of her legendary career, “This Christmas.” Franklin says she would have put out one decades earlier, but the powers-that-be at her old labels weren’t interested. Now that she’s a free agent, she teamed with Borders Group to release the CD — which features her trademark soulful approach to traditional Christmas classics — exclusively at Borders and Waldenbooks stores and Borders’ Web site.

AP: There are a lot of Christmas songs to choose from — how did you determine which ones you would cover?

Franklin: I did “14 Angels,” which is something I heard as a young girl, and I’ve always remembered it, and I’ve always loved it. I did “The Lord Will Make a Way,” because Christmas is the birth of Jesus and it surrounds itself with the nativity and that scene so I thought “The Lord Will Make A Way” would be appropriate, and particularly appropriate for the times. Times are really tough and really hard for a lot of people today.

AP: You have a very interesting, sassy take “’Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

Franklin: (laughs) Oh, that was just for fun, it was just for fun, nothing else. Certainly not serious, just for fun. The producer, Tena Clark, just asked me was there a little something I could do. ... So I thought about it, penciled a little something in and we did that.

AP: This album is being sold exclusively through Borders. More music acts are doing these exclusive album deals these days with retailers. Why do you think this benefits the artist?

Franklin: Artists have become very independent, and they’re doing their own thing. They’re operating from the Internet — you can go platinum out of the studio. It leaves open so many more avenues to distribute your product and you can do it creatively and autonomously and do it the way you want it. It’s not just one facet now the way it used to be in the record industry.

AP: A movie about your life is in the works. How is that progressing?

Franklin: I sat with the writers that came in for about three days just talking. They are just finishing a movie (about) Miles Davis, and I am waiting for a first draft. They didn’t want to write it chronologically, and I kind of want to see it chronologically. They wanted to write it in retrospect, in a very unorthodox kind of way, and I don’t know if that’s the best way to go about it. I think that people get a better grasp and a better sense of everything if we do it chronologically. ... But nothing is written in stone, I’m just waiting to read it to see what I think about it.

AP: What about the album you produced?

Franklin: That album is finished, it’s ready, and I’m looking for a deal, a label distribution deal. The name of it is “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love.” Lot easier to fall in than out, but everything’s cool now.

AP: Are you in love now?

Franklin: No, darling, I’m not in love no more, and that’s when it’s really good, when you don’t want him no more. That’s when it’s the best.

AP: Is that something that you’re still searching for?

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AP: Could you ever see yourself getting married again?

Franklin: I could very well do that. I like being married. I really like being married. I like getting up, and fixing the breakfast that he really likes the most, the lunch, the dinner, the whatever. I am very creative in that way, and like dealing with foods, when I don’t have anything else to do. ... I kind of like taking care of my sweetie, and him taking care of me.

AP: How do you like to be taken care of?

Franklin: With tender loving care. Very thoughtfully and (with) a very sensitive man. And surprise me every now and then.