Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Infobox musical artist
Name = Aretha Franklin

Img_capt = Aretha Franklin performing in 2007
Background = solo_singer
| Birth_name = Aretha Louise Franklin
Born = birth date and age|mf=yes|1942|3|25 [ Aretha Franklin ] ]
Memphis, Tennessee,
United States
Origin = Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genre = Soul, R&B, blues, gospel, jazz, rock'n'roll
Occupation = Singer, songwriter, pianist
Years_active = 1956 – Present
Voice_type = Mezzo-Soprano
Instrument = Singing, piano
Label = Columbia (1960–1966)
Atlantic (1967–1979)
Arista (1980–2003)
Aretha (2004–present)
Associated_acts = The Sweet Inspirations, Carolyn Franklin, Erma Franklin, Cissy Houston, George Benson, George Michael, Michael McDonald, Mahalia Jackson

Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. She is known to her fans as the "Queen of Soul" and is also affectionately called "Sister Ree". She is renowned for her soul recordings but is also adept at jazz, rock, blues, pop and gospel. She is widely acclaimed for her passionate, soulful vocal style, which is aided by a massive and powerful vocal range.

Franklin is the second most honored female singer in Grammy history (after Alison Krauss). She has won twenty Grammy Awards, which includes the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Aretha won eight consecutive awards between 1968 and 1975, during which time the category of Best Female R&B Vocal Performance was nicknamed "The Aretha Award". [cite web|url=|title=MUSICARES GIVES ARETHA FRANKLIN THE ROYAL TREATMENT: The Queen still commands r-e-s-p-e-c-t 40 years later|publisher=EURweb|date=2008-02-22|last=Austin|first=Mona]

Franklin has had a total of twenty number-one singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart, two of which became #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 as well: "Respect" in the 1960s and her 1980s duet with George Michael, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)".

On 3 January 1987, she became the first female artist to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [See [] ]


Early life and career

Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee to the Rev. C. L. Franklin, a Baptist minister, and Barbara Siggers Franklin. Aretha's parents had a troubled relationship and separated when Aretha was six. Siggers died of a heart attack when Franklin was ten. The fourth of five siblings, Aretha's father's first pulpit after Memphis was in Buffalo, New York. The family subsequently moved to Detroit, Michigan where they grew up, Rev. Franklin assumed the pulpit of the New Bethel Baptist Church, and gained national fame as a preacher. Adept at the piano as well as having a gifted voice, Franklin became a child prodigy. By the age of fourteen, she signed a record deal with Checker Records, where her father recorded his sermons and gospel vocal recordings, and she issued "Songs of Faith" in 1956. Her earlier influences included Clara Ward and Mahalia Jackson, both of whom spent a lot of time in Aretha's home.

Teenage pregnancies derailed Franklin's gospel career when she gave birth to the first and second of her four sons at age 14 and 16 [ IMDb: Aretha Franklin] ] . By the time she returned to singing, instead of performing gospel and inspired by the successes of idols Dinah Washington and Sam Cooke, Aretha decided to secure herself a deal as a pop artist. After being offered contracts from Motown and RCA, Franklin signed with Columbia Records in 1960. Her recordings during that time reflected a jazz influence inspired by Washington and moved away from her gospel roots. Franklin initially scored a few hits on Columbia including her version of "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)", which peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1961, and the Top 10 R&B hits, "Today I Sing The Blues", "Won't Be Long" and "Operation Heartbreak". However, by the end of 1966, with little commercial success in six years with Columbia and desperate for a sound, she accepted an offer to sign with Atlantic Records. According to Franklin years later, "they made me sit down on the piano and the hits came".

"Queen of Soul"

In 1967 Franklin issued her first Atlantic single, "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)", a blues ballad that introduced listeners to her gospel style. Produced by Jerry Wexler, the song became Franklin's breakthrough single reaching the Top 10 on the Hot 100, and holding the #1 spot for 7 weeks on Billboard's R&B Singles chart. The B-side, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man", charted on the R&B side, and introduced a more gospel element to Franklin's developing sound.

Her next single, "Respect", written and originally recorded by Otis Redding, firmly launched Franklin on the road to superstardom. Franklin's feminist version of the song became her signature tune for life, reaching #1 on both the R&B "and" the Pop charts - holding the top spot on the former chart for a record 8 weeks - and helping her Atlantic debut album, "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You", reach million-seller status. In the next ten months, Franklin released a number of top ten hits including "Baby I Love You", "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

In early 1968 Franklin won her first two Grammies (for "Respect"), including the first Grammy awarded in the "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" category. She went on to win eight "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" awards in a row.Natalie Cole broke Aretha's "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" winning streak with her 1975 single, "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" (which, ironically, was originally offered to Franklin).] Over the next seven years, Franklin continued to score hit singles including "Think", "The House That Jack Built", "I Say A Little Prayer" (a cover of Dionne Warwick's hit), "Call Me" and "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)". "Spanish Harlem" reached #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and even gave Aretha her first Top 10 "Adult Contemporary" (at the time labeled "Easy Listening") hit.

By the end of the 1960s, Franklin's position as "The Queen of Soul" was firmly established. Her albums were also hot sellers; one in particular, 1972's "Amazing Grace", eventually sold over two million US copies, becoming "the best-selling gospel album of all time". [Aretha's "best-selling gospel album" status was later surpassed by Whitney Houston's, The Preacher's Wife.] Franklin's hit streak continued into the mid-1970s. 1973's emotional plea "Angel", produced by Quincy Jones and written by Franklin's sister Carolyn, was a stand-out single that became yet another #1 on the R&B chart, although the subsequent album "Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky)" was not successful.

1974's gold-certified single "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" hit #1 R&B and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. By 1975, however, with the expanding exposure of Disco and the popularity of fellow Atlantic artist Roberta Flack, relations between Franklin and Atlantic Records were starting to strain. As a result, Aretha was recording poor material such as 1975's listless "You" album, and her record sales declined dramatically. Franklin had peaked, and the music industry was moving on to younger black female singers such as Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and Donna Summer.

Decline and tragedy

In 1976, Franklin's Curtis Mayfield-produced soundtrack of the film, "Sparkle", briefly brought Franklin out of her funk. It was her first album to reach gold status since the landmark "Amazing Grace". The suggestive "(Giving Him) Something He Can Feel" became a number-one R&B smash and reached #28 on the Pop side. However, it was Aretha's "only" Pop Top 40 appearance during the second half of the 1970s. Her later period Atlantic albums including "Sweet Passion", "Almighty Fire" and "La Diva" were critical as well as sales failures and to top it off Franklin owed major debts to the IRS for failure to pay back taxes. Her recording contract with Atlantic ran out at the end of 1979 and neither Aretha nor the company had any desire to renew it. On June 10, 1979, Franklin's father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was seriously wounded during what was said to be an attempted robbery at his Linwood Avenue home in Detroit, leaving him in a comatose state in which he remained until his death in the summer of 1984.

Return to prominence

In 1980, Franklin's career was given a much-needed boost by a cameo performance as Mrs. Matt Murphy in "The Blues Brothers", singing "Think". That same year, Clive Davis signed Aretha to his Arista Records. The singles "United Together" and "Love All The Hurt Away" - a duet with George Benson - returned her to the Top 10 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. But it was the spectacular 1982 album, "Jump To It", produced by longtime admirer Luther Vandross, and the title-track single that gave Aretha her first R&B chart-topping and pop success since "(Giving Him) Something He Can Feel". The album enjoyed a long run at #1 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart (even the "Zoomin"' album only reached #3). It won an American Music Award, was nominated for a Grammy and was certified gold in early 1983 - Aretha's first gold disc since the 1976 "Sparkle" album.

The following year Franklin and Vandross collaborated again on the disappointing "Get It Right". But in 1985, Franklin's sound was commercialized into a glossy pop sound as she experienced her first-ever "Platinum-certified" album, "Who's Zoomin' Who?". Yielding smash hits like the Motown-influenced "Freeway of Love" (#3 Pop/#1 R&B), the title track (#7 Pop/#2 R&B), and her duet with rock duo Eurythmics, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves" (#18 Pop/#66 R&B), the album became the first Platinum certification of Aretha's entire career, introducing her sound to a younger generation of fans. In 1986, Franklin did nearly as well with an album simply titled "Aretha", which yielded her first number-one pop single in two decades with the George Michael duet, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)". The album is noteworthy for the striking cover which was Andy Warhol's last work before his death. Other hits included her cover of The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the girl group-inspired "Jimmy Lee". When "Aretha" was taken out of print, it had sold over 900,000 US copies.

Aretha returned to gospel in 1987 with her album "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" which was recorded live at her New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. However, the disc was a far cry from her 1972 effort "Amazing Grace" and had middling sales. Follow-ups such as 1989's "Through The Storm" and 1991's "What You See Is What You Sweat" sold poorly and failed to produce any major mainstream hits - other than the former album's Elton John-featured title track - but her career got a slight boost in 1993 when she scored a dance-club hit with "Deeper Love" from the "Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit" soundtrack. In 1994, she scored another hit with the Babyface-produced ballad, "Willing To Forgive", which hit the Top 5 of Billboard's R&B chart and #26 on the Hot 100.

Franklin returned to prominence with her 1998 album, "A Rose Is Still A Rose". The album's mixture of urban contemporary, hip-hop soul and soul was a departure from Franklin's previous material. The title track, produced by Lauryn Hill, gave her a smash hit on the R&B and Pop charts and earned a gold single while the album was certified gold also, the first time since 1986's "Aretha" that any of the singer's albums went gold. That same year, with less than twenty-four hours to prepare, Franklin stepped in for Luciano Pavarotti to sing "Nessun Dorma" at the 1998 Grammy Awards. (Pavarotti, who was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award that night, was too sick to attend.) She gave a soulful and highly improvised performance in the aria's original key, while firmly stamping out the year with a captivating performance during VH-1's "Divas Live" telecast.

Recent years

Following the success of "A Rose Is Still A Rose", Franklin has continued recording if only sporadically. Her most recent full studio release was 2003's "So Damn Happy", which included the Grammy-winning track "Wonderful". Shortly after its release, Franklin left Arista Records after twenty-three years with the company. She has since started her own label, Aretha Records, and plans to issue her long-promised new album, "A Woman Falling Out Of Love" in 2008. She is also coaching young actors during auditions for a musical based on her autobiography, "From These Roots".

In 1998, Franklin also took again her role of Mrs. Murphy in "Blues Brothers 2000", this time singing her old hit "Respect". Like in the 1980 movie, she plays the possessive wife of the lead guitarist of the Blues Brothers Band, singing the song during a row with her husband about his joining his former band.

In 2007, Arista Records released a duets compilation album entitled, "." The disc features duets performed with Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Richard Marx, Annie Lennox, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Frank Sinatra, George Michael, Christina Aguilera, George Benson, Fantasia, and Gloria Estefan. A duet with Faith Hill has been recorded but it's not on the album. The album includes two new recordings with Fantasia, on the lead single "Put You Up On Game" and John Legend. The lead single "Put You Up On Game" hit radio on October 1, 2007 and became the number one most added song on Urban AC radio the following week. The album also includes Aretha's historic rendition of "Nessun Dorma" from the 1998 Grammy telecast.

In 2008, Franklin was honored as MusiCares "Person of the Year," two days prior to the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, where she was awarded her 18th career Grammy.

Personal life

Twice divorced, Franklin is the mother of four grown sons. Two of them, Kecalf and Teddy, are active in the music business. Teddy is the musical director and guitarist of Franklin's touring band. From 1961 to 1969, Aretha was married to her manager and co-writer Ted White. In 1978 she married "Cooley High" actor Glynn Turman. While White had been a decade older than Aretha, Turman was four years younger. The marriage lasted until late 1982 when Franklin and her family returned permanently to Detroit. She and Turman divorced in early 1984.

She is the godmother of Whitney Houston, who also grew up to be a pop star, rising to fame in the mid-1980s. A still image of Franklin was shown in the closing scene of Houston's 1985 video for the single How Will I Know.

Awards and achievements

* In 1985, then-Gov. James Blanchard of Michigan declared her voice “a natural resource” during a ceremony that marked her 25 years in show business
* On January 3, 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
* In May 1987, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Musicology degree from the University of Detroit.Fact|date=February 2008
* In September, 1999, she was awarded The National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.
* In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #9 on their list of the [ 100 Greatest Artists of All Time] . [cite web| title = The Immortals: The First Fifty| work = Rolling Stone Issue 946| publisher = Rolling Stone| url=] To give perspective to this honor, only the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and Little Richard finished ahead of her on this list. Ray Charles finished at number ten, right behind Franklin.
* In 2005, she was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.
* In 2005, she became the second woman (Madonna being the first, a founding member) to be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
* On February 6, 2006, she performed, along with Aaron Neville, the Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl 40
* On May 13, 2006, she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the Berklee College of Music.
* On April 1, 2007 Aretha sang "America the Beautiful" at Wrestlemania 23.
* On May 14, 2007, she was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
* Is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
* She is the youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.
* First black woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine.
* On February 8, 2008, Franklin was honored as MusiCares "Person of the Year".
* On February 14, 2008, Franklin was given the Vanguard award at the NAACP Image awards.
* On May 4, 2008, Franklin was given the Key to the City of Memphis at the 2008 "Memphis in May International Music Festival" by Mayor Dr. Willie Herenton during her performance onstage
* On September 13, 2008, Franklin was ranked #19 on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists" list by Billboard Magazine. [ [ The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists] ]

Grammy Awards

Franklin has won twenty Grammy Awards in total during her nearly half-century long career (she first charted in 1961), and holds the record for most Best Female R&B Vocal Performance award with eleven to her name (including eight consecutive awards from 1968 to 1975 - the first eight awarded in that category).


Notable albums

*1967 "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You"
*1967 "Aretha Arrives"
*1968 "Lady Soul"
*1968 "Aretha Now"
*1968 "Aretha In Paris"
*1969 "Soul '69"
*1969 "Aretha's Gold"
*1970 "This Girl's In Love With You"
*1970 "Spirit in the Dark"
*1971 "Aretha Live At Fillmore West"
*1971 "Aretha's Greatest Hits"
*1972 "Young, Gifted And Black"
*1972 "Amazing Grace"
*1973 "Hey Now Hey (The Other Side Of The Sky)"
*1974 "Let Me In Your Life"
*1974 "With Everything I Feel In Me"
*1975 "You"
*1976 "Sparkle"
*1976 "Ten Years Of Gold"
*1977 "Sweet Passion"
*1978 "Almighty Fire"
*1979 "La Diva"
*1980 "Aretha"
*1981 "Love All The Hurt Away"
*1982 "Jump To It"
*1983 "Get It Right"'
*1985 "Who's Zoomin' Who?"
*1986 "Aretha"
*1987 "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism"
*1989 "Through The Storm"
*1991 "What You See Is What You Sweat"
*1994 "Greatest Hits 1980-1994"
*1998 "A Rose Is Still A Rose"
*2001 "Aretha's Best"
*2003 "So Damn Happy"
*2007 ""

Top 10 US Hot 100 singles


*"The Blues Brothers" (1980)
*"" (1998) (ABC-TV documentary)
*"Blues Brothers 2000" (1998)
*"DIVAS LIVE" (1998)
*"Immaculate Funk" (2000) (documentary)
*"Rhythm, Love and Soul" (2002)
*"Tom Dowd & the Language of Music" (2003) (documentary)
*"" (2003) (documentary)
*"From The Heart / The Four Tops 50th Anniversary and Celebration" (2004)
*"" (2007) (documentary)

TV Talkshow Music Appearances

*"Rolonda Watts (Rolonda Show)
*"Oprah Winfrey (Oprah's 40 Birthday, with Patti Labelle & Gladys Knight)

ee also

* Honorific titles in popular music


External links

* [ Aretha Franklin birthplace]
* [ Official site]
* [ Aretha Franklin at Legacy Recordings]
*imdb name|id=0291349|name=Aretha Franklin
* [ Aretha Franklin] at the [ Memorable Music Hall of Fame] at [ Memorable TV]
* [ Aretha Franklin] at []
* [ Aretha Franklin] Recognizing New Title "Empress of Music"
* [ "Soul Covers" by Michael Awkward featuring research and analysis on Aretha Franklin]
* [ Aretha Franklin Video and Audio at Multimedia Archive]
* [ Aretha Franklin] at [ Swingin' Chicks of the '60s]
* [ Aretha Franklin] at BBC News
* [ Aretha Franklin] at
*worldcat id|id=lccn-n84-28907
*Details about PBS' 1988 'American Masters' television special about Aretha Franklin at (show is available on DVD through

NAME = Franklin, Aretha Louise
SHORT DESCRIPTION = American singer
DATE OF BIRTH = March 25, 1942
PLACE OF BIRTH = Memphis, Tennessee, United States

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