Aretha Franklin may be retiring from the stage — at some point — but she has no plans to stop making music.
In fact, Franklin is hard at work on a new album she hopes to have out in January, featuring collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Elton John (on a version of “Your Song”), Lionel Richie and Yitzhak Perlman. “Lionel’s working on his piece, Stevie’s working on his piece; they’re both originals,” Franklin, who’s co-executive-producing the album, tells Billboard. “I’m working on a couple of things. I think there will be about 10 [songs] on it, maybe 11, but I’m thinking 10.” No title has been determined yet for the album, which will be Franklin’s first studio set since 2014’s Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics and first to feature new material since Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love in 2011.
Franklin plans to continue recording even as she acknowledges “winding” down her performing career, as she revealed earlier this year. “After 54 years of traveling and flying and all of that can be very tiring, and even the tour bus takes a lot out of you,” Franklin explains. “I’m not happy; I’ll put it like that. I’m not happy, exactly, about not doing something that you’ve been doing for 54 years that you really, really love. But there’s a warranty on everything. Nothing lasts forever.”
Franklin has not set an actual retirement date yet, but says it will become obvious that she’s slowing things down.
“I just won’t be traveling the way I used to or doing anything like I used to in terms of concerts.” she says. “It used to be five or six; I’ll only be doing one, maybe two — and maybe none. But I have other things I want to do. There’s a lot going on.”
In addition to the album, Franklin says she’s developing a food line with Krispy Kreme. “We’re going to be doing some kitchen testing over the summer, testing recipes and perfecting them,” she says. “That and the CD are more on the front burner.” Other projects include a continuing biopic, a possible museum of her artifacts in Detroit as well as a nightclub/restaurant.
Franklin will be honored in Detroit next week with the naming of Aretha Franklin Way in the city’s downtown on June 8. An all-star tribute is being held the following night at Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, and Franklin will headline the inaugural Detroit Music Weekend with a free concert on June 10.