Musician ready to talk about his mom, Aretha Franklin | Entertainment

Teddy Richards re-recorded a track for his album “Chelsea Sketches” at his home studio in Southfield, Michigan on September 2, 2003.

DETROIT – For years, a Detroit singer-songwriter diligently pursued his musical career, building a reputation for himself and making a steady living.

Through it all – as he hustled, acted, and promoted his work – Teddy Richards deliberately muzzled one of the most compelling selling points available to him: he was the son of Aretha Franklin.

“I learned early on, especially when dealing with journalists or people related to the industry, that it was very easy to be exploited as ‘Aretha’s son’,” he says. “If you try to do something in your own name, to make your own way in the world, it will be impossible if that is how people know you. This would allow them to ignore your accomplishments.

It’s not that Richards wasn’t publicly linked to Franklin. For 30 years he played guitar in her tour ensemble, sometimes joining her in the studio. And that’s exactly how he described himself in his own press releases, marketing materials, and interviews, where Richards was just a “guitarist in Aretha Franklin’s band.” His mother was a “supernova,” he says, and he wanted his own light.

Now, at 58, Richards says he’s become comfortable in his own skin, confident in his accomplishments and development as an artist and producer. And he’s finally ready to publicly link his own work to his mother Queen of Soul, recording an album that will be released on March 25 – which would have been Franklin’s 80th birthday.

“I feel inside that I don’t have to be so harsh on myself about it anymore,” he says. “At this point, I’ve proven myself to anyone who cares.”

Familiar songs

The untitled release will feature a cover of the 1973 Franklin hit “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Going to Do)”, a song that holds a special place in Richards’ heart. : his first childhood experience with his mother in a recording studio. He attended a session produced by Arif Mardin and featuring Donny Hathaway on piano.

Richards was born in 1964 to Franklin and her husband-manager Ted White, becoming the singer’s third son. White, who was played by Marlon Wayans in MGM’s “Respect” biopic, passed away a year ago this week. Her birthday is also March 25.

“It seems like a perfect day to release a record in their honor,” said Richards, who now splits his time between Michigan and Southwest Florida with his wife.

Franklin and White divorced in 1969, and Richards was raised by his father in Detroit. He grew up with an eclectic musical taste, scrolling the local radio dial and finding himself enchanted with pop and rock as much as the R&B he was immersed in. At the age of 8 he was listening to Frank Zappa, and it was off. at the races.

Growing musical skills

Richards was a newbie to the guitar when he went to Michigan State University in the early 1980s, but his skills quickly matured when his band The Preps performed in East Lansing, playing in bars. and fraternal evenings and eventually landed opening slots with bands such as Modern English.

His mother noticed it. In 1984, with a two-night stand booked at the Chicago Theater during Thanksgiving week and in need of a guitarist, she asked Richards to join her band on stage. He must have borrowed an amp from a friend.

“I was terrified,” he says. “I had never done anything of this magnitude.”

But things clicked and Richards became a regular member of Franklin’s touring group. It was a job that left a lot of room for his own musical endeavors: having recently given up on flying, Franklin was only playing 15 or 20 dates a year. Still, it was enough to help strengthen his chops.

“It is by his grace that I have been able to grow and become an even better musician,” he says.

But Richards’ musical pursuits were not initially encouraged by his father, who had spent his time in the entertainment trenches and had doubts.

“What he emphasized in our house was not showbiz but education,” says Richards. “He wanted to stay as far away from him as possible. He knew the pitfalls, the things most people don’t think about, in the music business. He wanted to put me on a different track.

Forging your way

Three years after Franklin’s death, Richards says he remains in awe of his musical heritage while continuing to be proud of new milestones – such as Rolling Stone magazine’s recent crowning of “Respect” as the greatest song of all. the temperature.

His long years of reluctance to tie his solo career to his train came from a reflective stance. He had had what he called “eye-opening” encounters with other celebrity kids – many struggling with the role and even some, Richards said, who looked lifelong stunted.

He was happier to take inspiration from Kate Hudson and Norah Jones – daughters of Goldie Hawn and Ravi Shankar, respectively – who forged their own path in the arts, separate from their famous parents.

“To some people it might sound like ‘He was denying his own mother.’ It’s not that at all, ”says Richards. “I love both my parents deeply. But it is important to be your own man, to stand up, to manage your own affairs.

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