October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

From These Roots

by Aretha Franklin and David Ritz

We sang along with her when she demanded a little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and grooved with her when she convinced us that “A Rose Is Still a Rose.” Now Aretha Franklin, 56, is allowing fans a peek into her world through a sometimes rich, sometimes vague account of the Queen of Soul’s personal and professional lives.

She was an unwed mother at 14, but thanks to a supportive family-she was able to pursue her career. For a while she traveled the country with her father, the renowned Detroit minister Rev. C.L. Franklin. He would preach the gospel, and she would sing it. And at 18, Franklin crossed over to popular music, where she soared. But she has also had her share of hardships, including failed relationships and the deaths of her parents and two siblings.

Mind you, Franklin doesn’t exactly bare her soul, but she hits a few sharp notes (take heed, Gladys Knight) and dishes about a secret off-and-on relationship with a mysterious public figure. Aretha reveals the diva in broad strokes, with just enough personal anecdotes and backstage stories to keep fans intrigued. (Villard, $25)

Bottom Line: Nibbles around an extraordinary life

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