Aaron and I have corresponded through the years – we’re mutual fans of one another’s musical interests – and he was in Los Angeles in late August to screen the (hopefully) forthcoming documentary on Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, her best-selling 1972 gospel album. It’s a topic very close to Aaron’s heart, especially as the author of the new 33.3 book, Amazing Grace, which examines the album through exhaustive historical research and interviews.

Aaron and I chatted in my kitchen about the album, his book and the documentary (plus a bonus podcast of a few of his favorite gospel songs).

The Sidebar #19: Aaron Cohen

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Music used in this episode (all songs from Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace unless *otherwise indicated):

  • Amazing Grace
  • *Aretha Franklin: Precious Lord (Take My Hand)
  • Mary, Don’t You Weep
  • Give Yourself to Jesus
  • How I Got Over
  • Climbing Higher Mountains
  • Old Landmark
  • Remarks by C.L. Franklin
  • *The Gay Sisters: God Will Take Care of You
  • God Will Take Care of You
  • What a Friend We Have In Jesus
  • Precious Memories
  • Wholy Holy

Bonus beats: Aaron Cohen on a few gospel favorites

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Music in the bonus round:

Don’t forget to check out Aaron’s book!




  1. This is my favorite gospel album of all time. I always say that if I was in that audience there would have been so many disruptions, because I woulda been throwing my shoes at Aretha (especially during Precious Memories, my fave), snatching people’s wigs off while I “caught the Holy Ghost and just plain falling out in the middle of the aisles. It would NOT be pretty.
    Needless to say, I cannot WAIT for this documentary to come out! Lawd, Imma be a damn mess up in that theater!

  2. yeah, Oliver, really, really strong interview and podcast; a lot of “new” info and good balance of the broadly interesting w/the more arcane, such as gospel types, the Gay sisters, etc. I did know her father was known as somewhat of a ladies man, but had no idea of the Clara Ward connection.

    Let’s see, Aretha grew up hanging out w/Smokey, she was close w/Clara Ward and Sam Cooke came by when in town . . . all her sisters sang and wrote; safe to say her fate was sealed from a very early age.

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