CENTER STAGE

A Political Thriller

“An entertaining political thriller—smart and engrossing. No shortage of political intrigue depicted with astuteness and emotional drama.”
—Kirkus Reviews

ARETHA—A FEMINIST AND CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER

We all loved Aretha Franklin.  Her voice was beyond that of a mere mortal.

Aretha, and all you need is one name to know who we are talking about, had a soaring, earthy voice that combined the purest elements of jazz, opera, gospel, blues, and soul. The Queen of Soul’s voice brought tears of admiration from President Barack Obama (watch the video here).

Musical scholars often noted Frank Sinatra’s brilliance in how he used his voice for inflection and phrasing that bestowed powerful emotions to the lyrics.  Ms. Franklin had that same skill, but added a gut wrenching, emotional edge.  Her voice could alternate in the same song between sweetness, sadness, melancholy, regret, defiance, and pure joy.  Her sounds of joy will get you through any trying time.

Her songs moved one’s soul.  From a political perspective, I was struck at how she and her songs became powerful symbols for not one, but two political movementscivil rights and feminism.  No one else could make that claim.

Respect, the classic penned by Otis Redding, took on a far more powerful meaning with Aretha’s interpretation. The song became an anthem for women—no one would mess with that woman.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is timeless. As Ms. Franklin said, we all seek respect. The song Respect morphed from a song between a man and a woman, to her version of a shout out for a woman’s independence.  Every man is advised to listen to that song and respect a woman, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The song’s chorus of “sock it to me” was added by her and her sister. That catchphrase makes me smile.

The song Think was a message to her man, to every manthink dude, think what you’re trying to do to me.  Do not take this woman for granted.

Respect became an anthem of the civil rights movement and the battle for respect and equal rights.  Aretha supported these movements with not just her songs, but also her finances.  Throughout the decades she supported Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Al Sharpton in various causes.

In my novel Roll the Dice, I wrote Sloan as a rock star with substance, an inspiring and courageous figure who could capture the political zeitgeist.  Aretha, and so many artists of character like her, inspired this character.  Sloan is admirable—but he is not royalty; Aretha was royalty—she remains the Queen.

Aretha Franklin

Photo by InSapphoWeTrust – used with permission. Cretive Commons.

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Center Stage Cover
$19.95
January 12, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64543-794-9