Music: Soul Sister 2000

Aretha on her past, her future and her fabulous new album

Aretha Franklin's forthcoming CD, A Rose Is Still a Rose, is the 55-year-old singer's first album in seven years and her finest in two decades. Rose, due out March 10, boasts an all-star squad of producers, including Sean ("Puffy") Combs (who's worked with rapper the Notorious B.I.G.), Jermaine Dupri (Mariah Carey, Usher), and Lauryn Hill (of the hip-hop band the Fugees). Still, this is Aretha's show. Numbers like the cardiotonic title track urge female self-esteem; another song, the sweetly epiphanous ballad Love Pang, links the everyday chores of life to recollections of romance. Franklin talked with TIME in her hometown of...

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