In 1980, Franklin signed with Clive Davis’ Arista Records and that same year, gave a command performance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of Queen Elizabeth. Aretha also made an acclaimed guest role as a waitress in the comedy musical, The Blues Brothers. Franklin’s first Arista album, Aretha, featured the #3 R&B hit, “United Together” and her Grammy-nominated cover of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”. The follow-up, 1981’s Love All the Hurt Away, included her famed duet of the title track with George Benson while the album also included her Grammy-winning cover of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin'”. Franklin returned to the Gold standard – for the first time in seven years – with the album, Jump to It. Its title track was her first top 40 single on the pop charts in six years.
This is my all -time favorite song of Ms. Franklin. About a third of the way in this song, it’s like, I’m in church, and she’s preaching and the spirit hits.
In 1985, inspired by her desire to have a “younger sound” in her music, her fourth Arista album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who, became her first album to be certified platinum, after selling well over a million copies, thanks to the hits, “Freeway of Love”, the title track and “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves”. The following year’s Aretha album nearly matched this success with the hit singles “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Jimmy Lee” and “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”, her international number-one duet with George Michael. During that period, Aretha provided vocals to the theme songs of the shows, A Different World and Together. In 1987, she issued her third gospel album, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, which was recorded at her late father’s New Bethel church, followed by Through the Storm in 1989. Franklin’s 1991 album, What You See is What You Sweat flopped on the charts. Franklin returned to the charts in 1993 with the dance song, “A Deeper Love” and returned to the top 40 with the song, “Willing to Forgive” in 1994.
In 1998, Franklin returned to the top 40 with the Lauryn Hill-produced song, “A Rose Is Still a Rose”, later issuing the album of the same name, which went gold. That same year, Franklin earned international acclaim for her performance of “Nessun Dorma” at the Grammy Awards. Her final Arista album, So Damn Happy, was released in 2003 and featured the Grammy-winning song, “Wonderful”. In 2004, Franklin announced that she was leaving Arista after over 20 years with the label. To complete her Arista obligations, Aretha issued the duets compilation album, Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen, in 2007. The following year, she issued the holiday album, This Christmas, Aretha, on DMI Records. In January 2009, Franklin again made international headlines for performing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony with her church hat becoming a popular topic online. In 2010, Franklin accepted an honorary degree from Yale University. In 2011, under her own label, Aretha’s Records, she issued the album, Aretha: A Woman Falling Out Of Love. As of 2013, Franklin is now signed under RCA Records and is currently working again with Clive Davis. A new album is in the works with producers Babyface and Danger Mouse planning to work with Franklin.