The New 411
Amazing Grace – Aretha Franklin’s biggest-selling album and the best-selling live Gospel album of all time – is enjoying a revival nearly 50 years after it was recorded. It follows the debut late last year of the long-awaited documentary about the making of that legendary double live album, which opened to rave reviews.
CBS honored Franklin’s career on March 10 with Aretha: A Grammy® Tribute To The Queen Of Soul. Hosted by Tyler Perry, the two-hour special features performances by Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, Alessia Cara, Kelly Clarkson, Common, Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Patti LaBelle, and BeBe Winans, as well as recent Grammy nominees Brandi Carlile, Chloe X Halle, H.E.R., Janelle Monáe, and SZA.
Rhino will continue to celebrate Franklin with the release of AMAZING GRACE: THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS on vinyl for the first time ever. Available on March 22, just three days before Franklin’s birthday, the set ($99.98) includes four, 180-gram LPs that contain both of Aretha’s transcendent performances at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, which were recorded in Los Angeles on January 13 and 14, 1972.
Among the many signature moments that make up Franklin’s remarkable career, these performances clearly stand out as some of her finest work. They were recorded over two nights as the singer performed church standards like “Precious Memories,” “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and “How I Got Over,” the latter written by Gospel legend Clara Ward, who was listening in the audience. The performances were also attended by Franklin’s father, the famed Reverend C.L. Franklin; Clara Ward and Mother Ward of the Ward Family Singers; and Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, who were in town recording Exile On Main Street.
Released on June 1, 1972, Amazing Grace would go on to sell more than two million copies in the in U.S. alone. It was not only the best-selling album of Franklin’s career, but it still also holds the record as the best-selling live Gospel album of all time. In addition, the album also earned Franklin a Grammy award, her first for Best Soul Gospel Performance.
Originally, Amazing Grace included 13 songs, plus remarks by Reverend C.L. Franklin. In 1999, the album was remastered and expanded to include all the recordings from both nights.
Initially, a documentary was planned to accompany the Amazing Grace album, but technical issues kept the film from being released for nearly 50 years. That changed last November when Amazing Grace, at long last, premiered at the 2018 DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival.