Erma Franklin is everybody's soul sister. Her voice, richly reflecting her keen insight into human feelings, probes the soul and soothes it like the warm words that pass between sister and brother. Erma speaks out for people, whether they dream in a corner or boogaloo in a crowd-which means everybody.
Even you and me. So welcome Erma Franklin as you would family. Soft on love and tough on trouble, Erma has only understanding to offer, adding to joys and dividing sorrows, always speaking freely from her own soul and showing her good faith. Her voice is that good - it tells you all you need to lcnow. When she sings her beautiful big hit, Saving My Love For You, you really understand, because it's true and Erma is a true soul sister.
Changing places with some of today's top com- posers, Erma interprets their feelings as they, in their moment of deepest love, hope and prayer, probably felt. What makes her readings of By The Time I Get To Phoenix, For Once In My Life, and Baby I Love You so new and religiously exhilarating is that she adds her own personal sense of having been there, too. And when it's all eommunicated like a poem penned especially for you - that's soul. From the soul sister herself, Miss Erma Franldinl
New York producer Bert Berns incorporated Latin progressions and tempos into some of his greatest soul triumphs: The Jarmels' A Little Bit Of Soap, The Isley Brothers' Twist And Shout, The Vibrations' My Girl Sloopy, The Drifters' One Way Love, Solomon Burke's Cry To Me. Erma Franklin's Piece Of My Heart, penned by Bronx-bred Bert and fellow uptown soul master Jerry Ragovoy, reflected that passion too.
Erma was Aretha's older sister, born March 13, 1938 in Shelby, Mississippi. Like Aretha, she sang at New Bethel Baptist Church, where their father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, preached his sermons. While attending Northern High School, Erma was a member of The Cleo-Patrettes, makers of a highly obscure R&B single for Joe Von Battle's J-V-B label in 1953. Her powerful father convinced her to turn down a later entreaty to record from Berry Gordy and Billy Davis, then hoping to launch their own label, so she could enroll at Atlanta's Clark College.
Aretha crossed over to the pop field in 1960, signing with Columbia Records, and Erma followed suit, debuting on its Epic imprint the next year. Like her celebrated sister, Erma did quite a bit of pop-oriented material for Epic. She debuted in '61 with a rendition of the standard Don't Blame Me, though little sister Carolyn wrote her third Epic offering, Each Night I Cry, and she revived Lloyd Price's Have You Ever Had The Blues in '63 (Franklin sang with his orchestra for a time). Her Al Kasha-produced Epic LP 'Her Name Is Erma' contained an array of pop chestnuts and three Johnny Ace remakes.
After a '65 one-off for Price's Double-L logo, Berns signed Franklin to his Shout logo, a subsidiary of Bang Records, which he'd launched with Jerry Wexler and the Ertegun brothers. Erma's 1967 Shout debut, an update of Jimmy Reed's blues Big Boss Man, was followed by the spine-tingling Piece Of My Heart, boasting a magnificently controlled Franklin reading totally at odds with Janis Joplin's histrionic cover. Piece went to #10 R&B and #62 pop, though Erma's two Shout follow-ups missed entirely.
Gravitating to Chicago producer Carl Davis after Berns' untimely demise, Erma cut Gotta Find Me A Lover (24 Hours A Day), a 1969 R&B chart item on Brunswick. But three encores went nowhere, and during the '70s she began to put that college education to good use. Franklin died September 7, 2002 of throat cancer at age 64.
- Bill Dahl -
Various - Sweet Soul Music
Various - Sweet Soul Music 30 Scorching Classics From 1967