Singing from the Soul

She thought she was the only one who appreciated Aretha Franklin. She was thrilled to find out she was wrong.

By Kathie Kania, Lewistown, Montana

As appeared in

Music was in my family’s blood: I was a piano player and Mom was a violinist. But no one in my family loved–or even seemed to know about–soul music. The Beatles were more popular in upstate New York, where I grew up.

I remember practicing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in the living room, and adding a bluesy riff. “You shouldn’t try to jazz it up,” Mom warned from the couch.

“It’s not jazz, Mom,” I said, rolling my eyes. “It’s soul music.”

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I was an adult when I first heard Aretha Franklin on the radio. I felt giddy, like when I discovered Motown as a teenager. Her Amazing Grace gospel album came out in 1972 and I spent every evening after work learning the piano parts.

“I’ve never been much on that kind of music,” my fiancé said as I practiced. How I wish someone in my life understood my love of soul music!

Years into our marriage we moved to Utah. Exploring my new neighborhood, I met an African-American couple. “We’re starting a church,” the woman said. “Would you like to join?”

Walking over that Sunday I heard music wafting all the way out into the street. Soul music! Soon after I joined the congregation, the piano player left. God had led me to just the right church. And he’d brought the church just the right piano player.

Listen to Aretha Franklin's recording of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"!

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