It was 2006 when Aretha Franklin recorded "Never Gonna Break My Spirit," a soaring gospel prayer to the power of perseverance. Originally released as a duet with the queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige, for the Bobby soundtrack, a dramatic new version of the track as a solo showcase for the queen of soul was released earlier this year featuring the Boys Choir of Harlem. Among the song's writer: none less than Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams.
“When I wrote this song, I was channeling Aretha, never thinking that she’d ever actually sing the song,” Adams said in a press statement. “The thought was to write a hymn, something that would try and articulate the feeling of faith, and that even though you might have lost something, there would always be an inner light to guide you. When the song was demo’d, I told the producers that Aretha would be the one to sing this — and sing it she did. This solo version has been sitting on my computer for years, and when I heard [Sony Music’s Creative Officer and longtime producer and friend of Franklin] Clive [Davis] was making a film on Aretha’s life, I sent this version to him. The world hasn’t heard her full performance and it really needed to be heard. I’m so glad it’s being released, the world needs this right now.”
The new version landed with a poignant and powerful new video, released in conjunction with Juneteenth 2020, and spotlighting the Black Lives Matters protests that dominated cities in every American state over the summer. With the country still reeling for the failed insurrection at the White House this month, the song's resonance is even more palpable. Watch the visual below.