If ever there was a time for new Aretha Franklin music, it would be today: Juneteenth, in the midst of an unprecedented national uprising against racism and police brutality. Miraculously, we’re being gifted just that.
A never-before-heard solo version of the Franklin song “Never Gonna Break My Faith” has been released thanks to a collaboration between RCA Recordings, RCA Inspiration, and Legacy Recordings. The original version of the track was a duet with Mary J. Blige that was recorded for the 2006 film Bobby, but this alternate take leaves all the belting to the Queen of Soul, who is backed by The Boys Choir of Harlem.
Beyond the excitement of this being a new recording from the legendary singer, its lyrical content is particularly relevant in the current socio-political climate. “You can lie to a child with a smiling face/ Tell me that color ain’t about a race,” Franklin sings with her one-of-a-kind pipes during the hook. Take a listen to this new solo version of “Never Gonna Break My Faith” below.
Clive Davis, Sony Music’s Chief Creative and longtime friend of the late Franklin, commented on the song’s powerful resonance in today’s world,
“The world is very different now,” Davis said. “Change is everywhere and each of us, hopefully, is doing the best he or she can to move forward and make change as positive as possible. Music can play a major role here and Aretha’s performance is chilling. When you read the song’s lyric, and its relevance to what is happening today, it will shake every fiber in your body. Everyone should hear this record. It deserves to be an anthem.”
The original tune was written by renowned songwriter Bryan Adams and actually won a 2008 Grammy for Best Gospel Performance. According to a statement, Adams had this solo version of the song sitting on his computer for almost 15 years and decided now would be the best time to finally unveil it to the world,
“When the song was demo’d, I told the producers that Aretha would be the one to sing this – and sing it she did,” Adams said. “This solo version has been sitting on my computer for years, and when I heard Clive was making a film on Aretha’s life, I sent this version to him. The world hasn’t heard her full performance and it really needed to be heard. I’m so glad it’s being released, the world needs this right now.”
Franklin passed away at the age of 76 almost two years ago, on August 16th 2018, but her monumental legacy clearly still lives on.
Here’s the original for comparison: