Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist.[2] Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular musical career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin's career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as "Respect", "Chain of Fools", "Think", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", and "I Say a Little Prayer", propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as "The Queen of Soul".

The Queen Next Door

by: Linda Solomon

A Book Offering An Unseen Look At Aretha Franklin’s Life, Captured Through Photography and Stories

The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, an Intimate Portrait is a book full of firsts as Solomon was invited not only to capture historical events in Aretha’s music career showcasing Detroit, but to join in with the Franklin family’s most intimate and cherished moments in her beloved hometown. From performance rehearsals with James Brown to off-camera shenanigans while filming a music video with the Rolling Stones, from her first television special to her first time performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, to her last performance with her sisters at her father’s church and her son’s college graduation celebration, this book offers a new look at Aretha Franklin’s life.

In the book’s afterword, Sabrina Garrett Owens, Franklin’s niece, honors her aunt, a woman who was an overwhelming supporter of civil rights, women’s rights, and fundraising campaigns that helped to benefit her hometown. There was a time in her career—when Aretha Franklin was more in demand than ever before— when she insisted that if someone wanted her to perform, they had to come to Detroit. During this time all of her major concerts, national television specials, music videos, and commercials would happen in Detroit.

Aretha Franklin showed her respect for the people in the city who championed her from the very beginning when she started singing as a young girl in the church choir. Franklin used to say, “I am the lady next door when I am not on stage.” Through both photography and written word, The Queen Next Door is a book that offers fans a personal and unseen look at an extraordinary woman in her most natural moments—both regal and intimate—and highlights her devotion to her family and her hometown Detroit—“forever and ever.”


Aretha and I grew up together. She was the sister I never had. Her parents were parents of both of us. She is more than a Queen of Soul. She’s a Queen of Caring, a Queen of Social Justice. She stood with Dr. King and she stood for Nelson Mandela. This beautiful book captures her essence.

– Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Jr., founder and president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Linda’s got ‘it’"—what a great artist!

– Tony Bennett, entertainer

To most, Aretha Franklin is an icon. But to Linda, she was also a friend. And Linda’s intimate photographs of Aretha reveal the true lady beyond the legend. What a gift for all her fans!

– Meredith Vieira, television journalist and host

A picture is worth a thousand words, and with Linda no words were needed with she and Aretha. A powerful, emotional journey of photos that are beyond words and inspires us all to ‘say a little prayer.’ Thank you, Linda Solomon!

– Isiah Thomas, Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and Detroit Pistons champion

Linda Solomon is a Michigan treasure. She photographs celebrities and friends with equal enthusiasm, all the while devoting much of her time teaching others to enjoy the profession she loves.

– James J. Blanchard, former Governor for the State of Michigan

I feel like I’ve known Linda all my life. She intuitively seems to know how to catch that déjà vu moment with her camera lens—giving the pictures a unique and special touch like no other. She amazes me.

– Kim Novak, screen actress and visual artist

Her voice, her presence lives and breathes in her music which is kicking it to this day in my world. And now add some beautiful visuals. Thanks Linda for the wonderful images of the Queen of Soul.

– Tim Allen, actor and comedian

Aretha Franklin trusted very few journalists—a handful of us were lucky enough to be in that number, and that includes Detroit-based photojournalist Linda Solomon. You can see in the Queen of Soul’s soft, unguarded expressions in Linda’s photographs in The Queen Next Door that she was at ease with her. Linda had unprecedented access, but she didn’t overwhelm Aretha with a barrage of shots, instead capturing sensitive, evocative photos of a woman with the mystique of an icon, who was also the down-home woman ‘next door.’ This trove of beautiful images is a must for fans of the Queen.

– Susan Whitall, editor of Joni on Joni: Interviews and Encounters with Joni Mitchell and author of Fever: Little Willie John’s A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul

In The Queen Next Door, Linda Solomon gives us a rare photojournalistic glimpse into the life, lady, and legacy of one of the greatest talents of all time, Aretha Franklin—the Queen of Soul. Like Motown, Aretha Franklin is synonymous with the city of Detroit; she represented Detroit royalty and realness at the same time. While Aretha never signed to Motown Records, she was undoubtedly part of the Motown family and, like my grandmother, Esther Gordy Edwards, founder of the Motown Museum, Aretha used her celebrity to elevate the city she loved, Detroit.

– Robin R. Terry, chairwoman and CEO, Motown Museum

I met Linda Solomon in the early eighties while enjoying one of the Queen’s lavish parties. Linda was very charming and so professional in capturing that perfect and special moment. Linda will be always be special to all of us in the Queen’s court.

– Beverly Bradley, Aretha’s close friend

No one but Linda Solomon could have captured in moving words and photographs the real Queen, the Aretha Franklin who was sister-mama-daughter-friend, the woman who was larger-than-life star in her career, but down-to-earth Detroiter at home. Linda has given those who loved Ms. Franklin an intimate and needed tour of life off the stage.

– Rochelle Riley, essayist, arts advocate, and editor of The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery (Wayne State University Press, 2017)


Foreword Reviews

A personal peek into the private sphere of an international celebrity, acclaimed photojournalist Linda Solomon chronicles the over three decades of music, love, laughter, and friendship she shared with Aretha Franklin and the Franklin family in The Queen Next Door: Aretha Franklin, an Intimate Portrait. After being hired by Franklin’s brother and business manager to photograph career milestones that met the artist after her move back home to Detroit from California, Solomon discovered that the milestones most important to Franklin were the times spent with her friends and family. From backstage photos with James Brown and Levi Stubbs to homespun Christmases to the iconic pink Cadillac, the 140 photographs collected in the volume reveal the Aretha Franklin who lived outside the spotlight, sure to intrigue music lovers and pop culture enthusiasts alike.



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