Sony’s RCA Records, RCA Inspiration and Legacy Records released a new solo version of Aretha Franklin’s “Never Gonna Break My Faith” to align with Juneteenth, which commemorates the freeing of remaining enslaved people in the USA.
The uplifting soul-infused gospel song tells about faith and race, featuring Franklin’s signature vocal range and powerful lyrics about racism.
“You can lie to a child with a smiling face/Tell me that color ain’t about a race,” she belts out in the chorus. “You can cast the first stone/You can break my bones/But you never gonna break/You never gonna break my faith.”
The original version, released in 2006, is a duet with Mary J. Blige and features the Boys Choir of Harlem. It was written by Bryan Adams for the film Bobby, which is about the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. “Never Gonna Break My Faith” earned Franklin the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance in 2008.
“When I wrote this song, I was channeling Aretha, never thinking that she’d ever actually sing the song,” Adams said in a 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.”
In the midst of protests against police brutality, systemic racism and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, the song’s message is still relevant today.
“The world hasn’t heard her full performance and it really needed to be heard,” said Sony’s Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis in a statement. “I’m so glad it’s being released, the world needs this right now.”
Franklin charted over 100 songs through the course of her over-50-year career. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She died in 2018 at 76.