As her father once said, Aretha was still a gospel singer.

Today’s homecoming of Aretha Franklin prompted me to pull out her legendary double-CD live set, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism from 1987. While the live Amazing Grace set (1972) is the justly more famous, more satisfying collection, One Lord has moments of transcendent beauty and power, including her 10-minute tour de force with Mavis Staples on “O Happy Day.”

One Lord also features “I’ve Been in the Storm Too Long,” written by her long-time pianist and collaborator, the Rev. James Cleveland, and sung as a duet with the last of gospel’s old school shouters, Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy.

With the passing of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, Ligon was probably the last soul singer who could toe-to-toe with Franklin on any stage. And yet, “I’ve Been in the Storm Too Long” begins as a ballad, each artist taking a verse, singing softly and gently, more like a prayer than a shout:

I’ve been in the storm too long
I’ve been in the storm too long
Lord, please let me
Have a little more time to pray

I’ve been in the storm too long
I’ve been in the storm too long
Lord, please give me
I need a little more time to pray

Eventually, in the true gospel (and black preaching) style, the old dictum, “start low, go slow; rise higher, catch fire” kicks in and the two old friends let ’er rip for eight glorious minutes.

As I listen to the words again, I hear something of the essence that made Aretha Franklin not just the “Queen of Soul” but one of those few artists who, through the sheer force of her talent, Changed Things.

Although not as publicly active in the civil rights movement as Mahalia Jackson or Staples, Franklin …

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Source: Christian Today

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