Track by Track: Aretha Franklin, "Jump to It"

Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross perform 'Jump To It' during Budweiser Superfest, New York, Nevada, 1980. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
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African American singer Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross perform 'Jump To It' during Budweiser Superfest, New York, Nevada, 1980. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

For soul legend Luther Vandross, working with the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin in a recording studio was a dream come true. In order to realize that dream, Vandross simply spoke it into existence.

The story goes that during an interview with Rolling Stone, Vandross famously told the writer that "I'd wrestle Bruno Sammartino for a chance to produce Aretha Franklin." Arista chief Clive Davis saw that interview. After snagging Franklin away from Atlantic for his own Arista label, Davis had been relatively disappointed with the sales of the resulting first two albums. He called Vandross to say he'd like to hear what he had to offer Miss Franklin.

Vandross was guest-starring on Saturday Night Live at the time. His bass player, Marcus Miller, was in the house band. During breaks, the pair huddled over a piano to bang out the basic structure of what would become the title track for the Jump to It album.

"Marcus went home and worked on a track," Vandross would telll Billboard later, "and then I worked on the chorus and the hook and... sent it to Aretha with me singing it, and she loved it. And then I got to do the whole album."

When they got to the studio, the chemistry between the two stars was immediate. Vandross quickly realized that Franklin was a truly creative force to be reckoned with.

"She gets to the essence of her talent very quickly," Vandross revealed. "It's startling... anybody that records her should know to have the microphone on even for the sound check, even for the first take. Because 'Jump To It' was basically the first take. That recording session was heaven from the time the song was written."

Both the song and album were massively successful. Jump to It the full-length arrived in July 1982, topping the R&B chart for nearly two months and peaking at #23 on the Billboard 200. The single spent four weeks atop the Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart, hit #4 on the dance chart and #24 on the Hot 100.

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