Crain’s Detroit Business
"I waited for her outside as she arrived and asked if I could take one photograph," Solomon recalled last week. "I promised it was one photo. I told her 'I'm so happy you're back home.'"
Franklin consented, and Solomon snapped the photo and followed the singer inside. Thus began a decades-long friendship and hundreds of photographs over the years — backstage moments, on-stage moments and scores in between with Franklin, her family and her friends. Soon after Solomon's column was published, the photographer received an invitation to attend a reception in Franklin's honor from Mayor Coleman Young.
Solomon shot Aretha extensively in the 1980s, often for her column in The Detroit News, and some of those photos appear in the book. But most of the photos have never been published, including candids of Aretha relaxing with family and friends, at parties or backstage. It also includes examples of invitations to parties that Aretha would write out and address by hand. Solomon was fortunate to meet and became friendly with the Queen of Soul at a time – the 1980s – when the singer, fearful of air travel, was sticking close to home. “She brought the music industry back to Detroit in the '80s, because she didn’t travel,” Solomon said. “She would have producers coming here, and did her recording, music videos and major projects here in those years.”
“I wanted the book to look like an album she would have had on her coffee table, including her invitations, menus and photos,” Solomon said. “I only included photos that have never been seen – very rare experiences with her, from birthday parties, family holiday parties, rehearsals – I even have some from her son's college graduation with the MSU cheerleaders. She was so proud.”
Solomon noted she had very rare access to Franklin not only because of their friendship, but she always took film photos, and used her camera sparingly.
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.