If you want to pay r-e-s-p-e-c-t to the Queen of Soul this holiday season, buying the recently released biography, Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin, is not the way to do it.
Franklin says the book, written by her former biographer, David Ritz, may have been published as part of a personal vendetta.
"As many of you are aware, there is a very trashy book out there full of lies and more lies about me," she explained via a statement. "[The writer's] actions are obviously vindictive because I edited out some crazy statements he had the gall to try and put in my book written 15 years ago. Evidently, he has been carrying this hatred ever since."
Ritz worked with the 18-time Grammy Award-winning singer on her 1999 bio, Aretha: From These Roots, and won a Grammy himself for Best Album Notes for Franklin's 1992 box set, Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings.
"The sensitive questions — Aretha's mother leaving family, Aretha having two babies while still in her teens, Aretha being beaten by her first husband ... were off-limits," Ritz writes in Respect... about the process for their previous, collaborative book. "In my view, my two years of working on From These Roots resulted in my failure to actualize the great potential in Aretha's narration. I didn't do what I set out to do."
He insists, however, with this new effort there is no shade. "When I renewed my research for this book, I did so without Aretha's blessing, but I did have the support of three of Aretha's closest relatives," he writes.
"I think the book in the deepest way is an appreciation. And when I say, 'appreciation,' it's just not an appreciation of her art; it's an appreciation of the challenges of her life and the appreciation [of] how hard it is to kind of navigate your way through the complexities of show business culture," he later told the Associated Press. "I call the book Respect because I think it's a respectful book. I tried to be understanding and compassionate and that was my goal.... I love her and I love her art, and I tried to honor her story."
Franklin's latest album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, was released Sept. 29 and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop charts.
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