Aretha Franklin

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Aretha Louise Franklin  was born March 25, 1942 and died on August 16, 2018. She was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin’s career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, and “I Say a Little Prayer” propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as the “Queen of Soul”.

Franklin continued to record acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Spirit in the Dark (1970), Young, Gifted and Black (1972), Amazing Grace (1972), and Sparkle(1976) before experiencing problems with her record company. Franklin left Atlantic in 1979 and signed with Arista Records. She appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers before releasing the successful albums Jump to It (1982), Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985), and Aretha (1986) on the Arista label. In 1998, Franklin returned to the Top 40 with the Lauryn Hill-produced song “A Rose Is Still a Rose”; later, she released an album of the same name which was certified gold. That same year, Franklin earned international acclaim for her performance of “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards where she filled in at the last minute for Luciano Pavarotti, who canceled his appearance after the show had already begun. In a widely noted performance, she paid tribute to 2015 honoree Carole King by singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries, and 20 number-one R&B singles. Besides the foregoing, Franklin’s well-known hits also include “Ain’t No Way”, “Call Me”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Spanish Harlem”, “Rock Steady”, “Day Dreaming”, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”, “Something He Can Feel”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (a duet with George Michael). She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (1968–1975). Franklin is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1987, she became the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her number one on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” and number nine on its list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2019 awarded Franklin a posthumous special citation “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades”. In 2020, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Resources

Who Was Aretha Franklin? by Nico Merdina

Aretha Franklin was a musical and cultural icon whose legacy spanned six decades! Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942, Aretha got her start singing in front of her father’s Baptist congregation and found minor success as a gospel singer. She then set her sights on becoming a pop music artist and used her powerful voice and impressive skills on the piano to get a record deal. Aretha released her first of many celebrated albums at the age of 18. In 1987, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making her the first female artist to grace the prestigious list. With iconic hits such as “Respect” and “Think,” and countless awards to her name including eighteen Grammys, Aretha Franklin was one of the bestselling artists of all time.

Aretha Franklin by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

The fourth of five children, Aretha was born in Tennessee and took the stage at an early age in her father’s church choir. She went on to become the best-selling rhythm and blues singer of all time, and the first woman to be installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the broadcaster’s life.

A Voice Named Aretha by Katheryn Russell- Brown

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, a legend. But before she became a star, she was a shy little girl with a voice so powerful it made people jump up, sway, and hum along. 

Raised in a house full of talking and singing, Aretha learned the values that would carry her through life–from her church choir in Detroit to stages across the world. When she moved to New York City to start her career, it took years of hard work before she had a hit song. In the turbulent 1960s, she sang about “Respect” and refused to perform before segregated audiences. The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha always remembered who she was and where she came from. 

In this stirring biography of a true artistic and social icon, award-winning creators Katheryn Russell-Brown and Laura Freeman show young readers how Aretha’s talent, intelligence, and perseverance made her a star who will shine on for generations to come.

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