Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American singer and songwriter. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect“, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman“, “Spanish Harlem” and “Think“. By the end of the 1960s she had gained the title “The Queen of Soul“.

Franklin eventually recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&Bentries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. Franklin also recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love YouLady SoulYoung, Gifted and Black and Amazing Grace before experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s. After her father was shot in 1979, Franklin left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with her part in the film The Blues Brothers and with the albums Jump to It and Who’s Zoomin’ Who?. In 1998, Franklin won international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessun dorma“, at the Grammys of that year replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that same year, she scored her final Top 40 recording with “A Rose Is Still a Rose“. Franklin’s other popular and well known hits include “Rock Steady“, “Jump to It“, “Freeway of Love“, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who“, “Chain Of Fools“, “Something He Can Feel“, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (with George Michael), and a remake of The Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash“.

Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stonemagazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time; and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Franklin wipes a tear after being given the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005, at the White House. Seated with her are fellow recipients Robert Conquest, left, and Alan Greenspan.

Franklin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, had her voice declared a Michigan “natural resource” in 1985, and became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.NARAS awarded her a Grammy Legend Award in 1991, then the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. Franklin was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. She was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005. [87]

Franklin become the second woman inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. She was the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year, performing at the Grammys days later. Following news of Franklin’s surgery and recovery in February 2011, the Grammys ceremony paid tribute to the singer with a medley of her classics performed by Christina AguileraFlorence WelchJennifer HudsonMartina McBride, and Yolanda Adams. That same year she was ranked among the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time top artists, and ranked first on the Rolling Stone list of Greatest Singers of All Time.

Inducted to the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012, Franklin has been described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America” and a “symbol of black equality”.Asteroid 249516 Aretha was named in her honor in 2014.

“American history wells up when Aretha sings”, president Obama explained his emotional response to her performance of “A Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. “Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll–the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope”.

On June 8, 2017, the City of Detroit honored Franklin’s legacy by renaming a portion of Madison Street, between Brush and Witherell Streets, “Aretha Franklin Way”

On January 29, 2018, the Oakland Press‘s correspondent Gary Graff confirmed that the American Idol runner-up Jennifer Hudson will take the role to play Franklin in her coming biopic. The news was announced by the Queen of Soul’s executive producer Clive Davis, who made public their decision on the choice of actors casting in the film two days before Graff’s article was published.

An all-star tribute concert to Franklin, celebrating her music, is scheduled for November 14, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...