Aretha Franklin’s birth home in South Memphis has been saved from demolition — for now.
Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter on Thursday postponed an order to demolish the deteriorating South Memphis house where Franklin was born on March 25, 1942. Judge Potter cited the increasing level of national interest in the case, the city’s satisfaction that the property had been somewhat repaired and secured, the home’s importance in “the history of R&B in this city and this country” and his own love for the music of the Queen of Soul.
“Let’s let the country know that we’re going to clean up Aretha Franklin’s home,” said Potter, during a hearing on Thursday.
The country will certainly hear about it if Franklin herself becomes involved: Jeffrey Higgs of the South Memphis Renewal Community Development Plant said in court that Franklin “in fact talked to me personally” and “expressed an interest in saving the house and putting some of her own money in the house.”
In an interview after Thursday’s hearing, Higgs said the Detroit-based Queen of Soul called him at home on his cellphone June 19, “the night of the NBA Finals.” He said she expressed interest in helping to save the house, but said he could not say much about the specifics of the conversation until working out details with Franklin’s representatives. Said Higgs: “She is some sort of woman.”
Potter’s Thursday decision calls for Higgs to return to court Aug. 11 to submit what Potter said must be “a definite timeline” along with “substantive” economic proposals to save the house at 406 Lucy Ave. He said Higgs must bring a plan “that is not just possible, but probable.” Higgs has been a proponent of rehabbing and moving the house to a new location, possibly in the Soulsville neighborhood near the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
and just because I love to watch her sing Amazing Grace…