Story of the Song: Beverley Knight, Piece of my Heart (2006)

Robert Webb
Friday 22 May 2009 00:00
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Beverley Knight's Pentecostal upbringing in Wolverhampton introduced her at an early age to gospel and secular soul music.

She first recorded in the mid 90s, with the small independent label Dome, via a job singing jingles for local radio. By 2006 she was signed to Parlophone and had scored with a string of modern R&B classics. Her fifth album was a best-of compilation, Voice. It includes her 2006 hit, the proto-feminist soul-belter "Piece of My Heart", originally by Erma Franklin, Aretha's sister.

Knight was no doubt familiar with Franklin's original, but hers would have sounded very different – if she had cut it at all – had it not been for Janis Joplin who recast the song in 1968, with her band of denimed hippy-rockers, Big Brother and the Holding Company. Her raw performance is captured on their second album, Cheap Thrills. It's a powerful holler and a far cry from Franklin's more restrained blueprint. When Franklin heard Joplin's cover on the radio, she claims she didn't even recognise the song. "Her version is so different from mine that I really don't resent it too much," she said. Franklin quit the music industry in the 70s and died in 2002.

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