Lip Sync Herstory: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Aretha Franklin's 'A Deeper Love'

Leon Morris/Redferns
Aretha Franklin performs at the 1994 New Orleans Jazz Festival.

As the eleventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race begins to come to a close, fans are split on who will snatch the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar at next week’s grand finale. Canada’s own Brooke Lynn Hytes has proven to be a strong competitor this season, but her place in the finale was in jeopardy when she found herself in the bottom two opposite fan favorite (and new fling) Vanessa Vanjie Mateo.

The two lovebirds faced off in a lip sync battle to determine who would join Yvie Oddly, A’Keria Chanel Davenport, and Silky Nutmeg Ganache in next week’s lip sync tournament for the crown. Ultimately, the Queen of the North triumphed, sending Miss Vanjie packing. The song they performed to, Aretha Franklin’s 1994 hit “A Deeper Love,” served as a stunning backdrop to the final main stage lip sync of the season. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the song:

It was a cover of a popular dance track

The early ‘90s are considered by many to be the golden era of dance-pop, with classics like Corona's “The Rhythm of the Night” and CeCe Peniston's “Finally” taking over dance floors all around the world. “A Deeper Love” became one of these iconic songs in 1991 when producers Robert Clivillés and David Cole released the original version, which featured vocals from singers Deborah Cooper and Paul Pesco. The song would go on to peak at No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March of 1992.

Aretha’s cover marked a change in her sound at the time

When you hear the name “Aretha Franklin,” chances are you think of her soulful belting on classics like “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Respect”. So, releasing a dance track was an unorthodox move for the Queen of Soul in 1994. But it ultimately worked in her favor: “A Deeper Love” was well received by critics and clubgoers alike, and showed that Franklin could easily adapt to the changing soundscape over three decades into her career.

The track was produced by the iconic C+C Music Factory

Clivillés and Cole -- the producers of the original “A Deeper Love,” as well as Aretha’s cover -- are best known for their group C+C Music Factory, which they co-founded in 1989. “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” was their most recognizable song, and a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 smash, putting them on the map in the early ‘90s. Subsequent hits like “Here We Go (Let’s Rock & Roll)” and “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm….” further cemented C+C’s status as dance-pop hitmakers. 

It became a rallying cry for the LGBTQ+ community

Aretha Franklin was a well-documented ally of the LBGTQ+ community throughout her life, working with some of music’s biggest out gay artists and vocally supporting her lesbian sister; even her last public performance was at a benefit for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. The song’s lyrics reference pride as the “deeper love” that Franklin sings about, calling it “the power that gives you the strength to survive,” which is rooted in “respect for yourself.” Her message was quickly embraced by the LGBTQ+ community as a celebratory anthem both at pride parades and in gay clubs, and empowered a large group of people who didn’t receive much overt support from mainstream artists.

A special remix was featured in Sister Act 2

The official music video for “A Deeper Love” weaves in images of Whoopi Goldberg and groups of dancing nuns jamming to Aretha’s soaring voice. While this may be confusing upon first glance, it’s fully intentional: a remix of the track plays over the end credits of Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, helping build the song’s popular momentum in early 1994.

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