Survivor story of the Detroit preacher's daughter who burst upon the music scene as a gospel singer, then crossed over to pop and rock-and-roll without losing her gospel roots. Sadness struck Aretha early when, at 15, she found herself pregnant and decided to have the baby. Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was a famed radio preacher based in Detroit whose evangelical troups played church stops around the country and who had 50 phonograph records of his vibrant sermons made and sold by Chess Records. At home the Reverend--who lived high and had a pink Cadillac--was a hub of musical activity in Detroit, and, as a child and teen-ager, Aretha swung the night away at home with visiting jazz greats like Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson or by singing with gospel/soul stars like Sam Cooke. She modeled her singing on Clara Ward's thrilling delivery and taught herself to play piano like Ward. At 12, she began drawing crowds to Reverend Franklin's 4500-seat New Bethel Baptist Church and had churchgoers fainting in their pews. Meanwhile, her mother deserted the family, an act that remains a mystery, then died of cancer when Aretha was ten. Her mother's death, her father's later being fatally shot at home by a robber, an unhappy series of husbands and lovers, and her unmanageable weight problem have contributed to Aretha's restrained life today. After life on the road and winning more Grammys and having more Top Ten hits than any woman in Rock, Pop, Soul or Gospel, she almost never leaves Detroit, staying walled up in her fine home. A close friend of Martin Luther King's, she apparently fears being assassinated in public by some cracked admirer or crazed white. Bego (Linda Gray) asks more questions than he finds answers for, and Aretha remains still a mystery. But he has energetically interviewed the right people and done groundbreaking work--the Soul recording background is strong and absorbing. In all, a merely competent netting of a vastly vital woman.