Lessons learnt from the Hot Girls Podcast
1. Take inspiration from those around you
Aretha was raised by her Minister father, CL Franklin. Her father mentored Martin Luther King and had many other famous friends including Clara Ward, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Sam Cooke which he invited to hear Aretha perform. Being surrounded by greatness from a young age, and her father’s sheer belief that she was divine instilled her with confidence. A great lesson from this is to absorb the positive energy people give you from compliments to advice and transfer it into confidence.
2. Authenticity always produces the best work
Aretha Franklin signed to Columbia record in 1961. She released 9 albums over 6 years under the label. Although there was this general sense that Aretha was better than the albums. During her time at Columbia, she was a victim of men trying to force their opinions on her and her artistry. The lack of freedom led to Aretha not believing in the songs she was singing due to the inauthenticity. Columbia ended up making a loss whilst working with Aretha, this is attributed to them not allowing her to shine. In 1967 she signed a contract with Atlantic Records and released Respect, which is perhaps her best-known song. Over the next decade, Aretha released some of her most prolific records. She was rewarded with 10 Grammy awards for her hard work. A very clear lesson here is if you want the best of someone, you need to make space for it.
3. Finding your voice
Once Aretha left Columbia records, she had the space to find her voice and show the world. Aretha’s voice and songs sound-tracked a revolution and became a huge part of the civil rights movement in America. Her voice resonated with so many people, cementing her legacy. Her experiences as a black woman shaped her and her artistry. Using your experience no matter how common or niche they may be will give your work a unique perspective that no one else can achieve.
4. Create your own map
Aretha lived in Detroit her whole life. She never moved to be in the entertainment industry hotspots like LA or New York. This highlights that she knew what she wanted and wouldn’t be influenced. After a bad flight in 1982, she never got on a plane again. This wasn’t a limitation for her, as she focused her touring to North America. Recognising that it wasn’t worth the emotional stress it would cause her to get on a plane, she adapted and found what worked for her. You should always put your well-being first, and adapt the situation to suit you where possible.
5. Change is good
Aretha released music under labels for 52 years. Releasing over 40 albums and creating a music catalogue that is hard to keep track of due to the sheer volume of songs she has recorded. Around 2009 ,Aretha made the choice not to resign to a major label. She decided it was time to record for herself, so at 72 years old she released “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics” in 2014. The album ended up being her fastest-selling album ever. Aretha’s self-belief led to her creating something without the backing of a major label and it proved to be immensely successful. After a prolonged period anywhere, it’s easy to become complacent and comfortable. So Aretha leaving after 52 years is especially admirable.