This Tuesday, August 9, 2022, Canal+ broadcasts “Respect,” a biographical tribute to song legend: Aretha Franklin. A committed woman and an outstanding artist, her life has been marked by many difficulties: racism, the death of her mother, but also a toxic relationship with her manager and husband Ted White, the man who subjected her to domestic violence on several occasions. .
A civil rights activist alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., close to her father, but also a singer whose music has marked the history of rhythm and blues, Aretha Franklin is a legend. Everyone knows his religious songs “Respect” or “Natural Woman”. But behind her super media personality she also hid suffering, which also fueled her music and the power she put behind her words. Among these afflictions, we find in particular his first great love story, in the arms of Ted White.
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Fast Federation of Aretha Franklin and Ted White
Aretha Franklin was 12 years old when she began performing in front of an audience in her pastor’s churches. At 14, when she had just given birth to her first child, Clarence, her father secured her first contract with JVB Label, and she recorded her debut album. However, her father’s desire to take care of her fails, as she became pregnant again at the age of fourteen and gives birth to a second child, Eddie.
A few years later, already well established in the world of music, the young artist and single mother will have a meeting that will change her life: the life of Ted White, a 30-year-old man and promoter 12 years her senior. He will put the ring on her finger after a few weeks. At the time, Aretha Franklin was only 18 years old, and her father, CL Franklin, was vehemently against her marriage.
This union marks a rupture in the father-son relationship, then Ted White becomes the new manager of his young wife. He created the Ston-Roc label, and their professional and romantic relationship appears to be stable in appearance. They wrote several cult songs together, such as “Doctor Villagegood” and “Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream”.
abusive and violent husband
However, behind closed doors, their relationship is anything but a tender one. At that time, many relatives of the singer denounced the barely hidden domestic violence of which she would be an ordinary victim. In 1968, Time magazine recounted an event that took place in a large hotel, in front of witnesses: “Ted White, Aretha’s husband, roughed it up at the Regency Hyatt House in Atlanta. White, 37, was a former real estate worker and street dealer in Detroit. , has come a long way since she married Aretha and took charge of her career. [La chanteuse américaine de gospel] “I don’t think she’s happy. Someone else makes her sing the blues,” Mahalia Jackson sighs, “But Aretha says nothing, and the others can only speculate.”
For her part, singer Etta Jones, who is close to Aretha Franklin, does not hesitate to accuse Ted White of pandering: “Ted was supposed to be the most cunning pimp in Detroit. And when I learned that Aretha was married, I was not surprised. Many great singers we adored As little girls… they had pimps for their friends and managers… Part of the appeal of pimps was because they forced us to pay. They protected us. They beat us too,” she says in a bio dedicated to her friend. The artist also declared, “We can compare the Aretha/Ted situation to that of Tina and Ike,” referring to the love story of Tina Turner and Ike Turner, who were also violent men.
Denial, then divorce
Aretha Franklin’s agent also captured this relationship in the singer’s biography, stressing that the latter drowned out her grief and pain from alcohol: “She was drunk before the concert, and it did not help her in any way to sing… Aretha was very attached to denial. She did not want to You hear that she has a drinking problem.No matter how many falls she has, how many tickets she has, how many mediocre performances she has given because of drunkenness. Her talent is to protect her even when drunk, she can sing better than ninety-nine singers out of a hundred. Most People can’t tell that something was wrong.”
Shortly after the Regency events, the couple separated and their divorce was officially announced in 1969. Aretha Franklin left her toxic marriage, then entrusted her brother Cecil Franklin to manage her career, which is not yet over.
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