BIRTH: March 25, 1942,
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DEATH: August 16, 2018 (aged 76),
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter and actress. She is called
the “Queen of Soul”. She ruled the age of soul music in the 1960s.
Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942. Her father, Clarence LaVaughan Franklin, was a Reverend of a Baptist church. Her mother, Barbara Siggers Franklin, was a gospel singer. Franklin had three siblings and grew up in a religious family.
At the age of six, Aretha’s parents separated, and when she turned ten her mother passed away. Aretha
taught herself to play the piano and sang for her father’s church choir. She began her career in music at the age of fourteen. Her first album, ‘Songs of Faith’, came out in 1956 with J.V.B. Label.
Franklin signed a recording deal with Columbia Records and moved to New York in 1960. Her song “Today I Sing the Blues” topped the Hot R&B Sellers charts.
She also released her pop album, ‘Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo’ in 1960. It became an instant hit with its single “Rock-a-bye”. Her hit singles from 1964 to 1966 were, “Runnin’ Out of Fools”, “One Step Ahead”, “Cry Like a Baby” and “You Made Me Love You”. Franklin began recording with Atlantic Records in 1966.
She released ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You’ in 1967. It topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Her albums ‘Aretha Arrives’ (1967), ‘Lady Soul’ (1968) and ‘Aretha Now’ (1968) earned her the
title of “Queen of Soul”. Her singles, “Respect”, “Think” and “I Say a Little Prayer”, gained her
international recognition. Franklin received two Grammy Awards for “Respect”.
During the 1970s, the singer released ‘Spirit in the Dark’, ‘Young, Gifted & Black’ and other
such albums. Franklin recorded her first live album entitled ‘Aretha Live at Fillmore West’ in
1971. Her 1972 album, ‘Amazing Grace’, became the best-selling gospel album at the time. She
the soundtrack for the film Sparkle in 1976. In the 70s, Franklin won eight consecutive
Grammy Awards, the last of which was for her single “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” in 1974.
Franklin signed with Arista Records in 1980. She performed for the Queen of England in the
same year at the Royal Albert Hall. Also, her single “United Together” ranked third in the R&B
charts. She made an appearance in the musical The Blues Brothers. In 1981, her album ‘Love All
the Hurt Away’ was released. Her duet song with George Benson called “Hold On, I’m Coming”
earned her her eleventh Grammy Award.
She worked with Narada Michael Walden for her 1985 album ‘Who’s Zoomin’ Who’. It became her
first platinum album. Its single “Freeway of Love” earned her another Grammy Award. Franklin
released another gospel album in 1987 entitled ‘One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism’. Her 1998
album, ‘A Rose is still a Rose’ was certified gold. Franklin’s autobiography Aretha: From These
Roots was published in 1999.
Franklin released her album ‘Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love’ (2011) from her label. In 2014,
Franklin released a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. After this, she became the first woman to have one hundred songs in R&B charts.
Franklin has received eighteen Grammy Awards in her lifetime. She has won three
American Music Awards in the category ‘Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist’. She was the first
female musician to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
She became the most charted female artist of all time. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. The same year, she became the second woman to be inducted to the UK Music Hall of
Fame and the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. She has also been inducted to the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
She was ranked number one in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘100 Greatest Singers of All Time’ in 2010.
She was honored as the MusiCares ‘Person of the Year’ in 2008.
Aretha Franklin has been married twice. Her last marriage was to Glynn Turman in 1978. They
separated after six years of marriage. She was a mother to four children. Her third son, Ted White Jr. (Teddy Richards), also became a musician.
Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018, due to pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years old at the
time. She continued recording and performing until the very end. In 2009, Franklin performed
“My Country ‘Tis Thee” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. She has been described
as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America.” In 2014, Asteroid 249516
was named “Aretha” in her honor.