Unreleased Aretha Franklin song surfaces for Juneteenth

Listen to "Never Gonna Break My Faith," originally released in 2006 as a duet with Mary J. Blige

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

A never-before-heard Aretha Franklin recording has been released to commemorate Juneteenth. 

The song, a version of "Never Gonna Break My Faith" featuring the Boys Choir of Harlem, was released Friday to all major streaming services and YouTube.

The song features rousing lyrics about rising up from struggle that resonate today. "You can lie to a child with a smilin' face, tell me that color ain't about race/ you can cast the first stones, you can break my bones, but you're never gonna break my faith," the Queen of Soul sings. 

"Never Gonna Break My Faith" originally was released as a duet with Mary J. Blige on the soundtrack to 2006's "Bobby," about the life of Robert F. Kennedy. It earned Franklin a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance — her 18th and final win. 

In a statement, Clive Davis called Franklin's vocals "chilling" and said the song deserves to become an anthem. 

“The world is very different now. Change is everywhere and each of us, hopefully, is doing the best he or she can to move forward and make change as positive as possible,” said Davis, whose history with Franklin dated back decades. "Everyone should hear this record." 

Franklin died in August 2018 at 76. "Respect," a biopic about the Detroit icon starring Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, is currently due out Dec. 25.