Aretha Franklin, one of the most iconic artists of our time, is the subject of a new movie detailing her early years. As movie biopics go, the average follows a predictable path. A troubled childhood, a record deal, relationships that are torn apart by addictions and affairs, and of course the genius beneath it all. However, this movie has a feeling about it that brings her story to life like no other.
It’s been said that Jennifer Hudson, who plays Franklin beautifully, “channeled the spirit” of Aretha Franklin. Hudson is a vocal powerhouse as well as a superb actress and is rumored to deserve an academy award for this role.
The demons that plagued Franklin for many years of her life stemmed from an incident of childhood sexual abuse that occurred in her father’s home. Many weekend parties were held there, and a young Franklin often sang happily at these parties, going so far as to get up after her bedtime and sing for adults she considered friends.
It was after the incident that she went silent – not talking (or singing) at all. As she grew older she used drugs and alcohol in order to cope. In historical documents, there are details of her falling completely off the stage during a show in Columbus Georgia. This incident is said to be one of her darkest days and possibly her “rock bottom”.
The movie follows her fall and then her finest achievement, her 1972 gospel landmark album “Amazing Grace”. The result is a recommitment to sobriety, to God, and to her roots.