Universally hailed as the Queen of Soul, the late Aretha Franklin is being honored by Los Angeles-based record producer Geffen/UMe with a restored version of one of her earliest recordings, “Songs of Faith: Aretha Gospel,” in time for what would have been her 77th birthday on March 25.
Recorded live in 1956 at Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church when Franklin was 14 years old, the album features her renditions of nine gospel standards. It will be available on black vinyl, on limited-edition white vinyl, and digital reissue on March 22.
This newly restored and remastered edition of “Songs of Faith: Aretha Gospel” returns the album to vinyl for the first time in decades, with new cover art, a new essay by Franklin biographer David Ritz, and a detailed history of the tracks’ various releases.
She began her career performing, accompanying herself on piano, as the opening act for her celebrated father, Rev. C. L. Franklin, whose recorded sermons were popular. Her performances first were issued as singles in the 1950s, followed by LP releases by Chess/Checker.
Rolling Stone writer Mikal Gilmore revisited the legend’s star-making performances at New Bethel Baptist Church in his cover feature for the magazine’s October 2018 issue, writing, “…before an open microphone, her vocals took on an incorporeal quality — world-weary and mystical at the same time. As Aretha wailed ‘Precious Lord,’ a listener in the audience called out, ‘Listen at her!’ A great career in the gospel world was there for the wonder child’s taking.”