Aretha Franklin; The ever-iconic singer with an unforgettable voice and indomitable spirit who forever left an engraved legacy, inspiring millions of hearts across the world and paving way for strong female singers.
A wowing 18 Grammys to her name, undeniably one of the best-selling music artists of all time, “Queen of Soul” Aretha Louise Franklin, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide is most rightly regarded as the most influential female vocalist of the 1960s.
Her remarkable rise from a traumatized child to one of the world’s most renowned personalities! All thanks to music, her one true passion, greatly inspires.
A tough childhood largely defined by heartbreaking traumas and pain which threatened to break her spirit, the experience would rather ultimately transcend into the depth of her most powerful music.
Born March 25, 1942, to father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, a nationally known Baptist preacher and civil rights activist, and Barbara Vernice Franklin (née Siggers), a gifted pianist and singer. Her parents’ relationship was best described as stormy.
Despite his calling religiously, C.L. Franklin had earned repute as a ladies’ man with many infidelities, including fathering a daughter (named Carol Ellan Kelley [née Jennings]) by Mildred Jennings, a 12-year-old congregant in Memphis in 1940. His infidelities hit hard one too many times and in 1948, when Aretha was six, Barbara moved—taking Vaughn, her son from a previous relationship with her to Buffalo, New York, but leaving C.L. and her children with him behind.
A “severely shy and withdrawn child” with a close bond with her mum, fate served Aretha a devastating blow when her mum, Barbara died of a heart attack on March 7, 1952. She was 34 years old.
Life wasn’t about letting easy come just yet; just two months before Aretha’s 13th birthday, she gave birth to her first child, a son she named Clarence. Aretha dropped out of school under the father’s guidance and instead of just letting Aretha stay home overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of the child, Aretha’s paternal grandmother took up the responsibility. Instead, her father recruited his daughter to begin traveling with him and his gospel group on the road, her first real taste of the music world.
A year later, at the age of 14, Aretha became pregnant again, she birthed her second son Eddie, who like his older brother was also given Aretha’s last name and raised primarily by Aretha’s grandmother.
At age 18, Aretha married Ted White and appointed him as her manager, despite her father’s vehement disapproval. The pair
first met at a party inside her family’s home in 1954 when she was 12. The union fraught with domestic abuse and unhappiness eventually came to a dead-end, Franklin separated from White in 1968 and divorced him in 1969.
American singer, songwriter, and pianist 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 18, she embarked on building a career in secular music signing with Columbia Records. Lots and lots of hard work behind the scenes but the spotlight didn’t show until signing with Atlantic Records in 1966.
The star performer is noted for dishing out hit songs back to back such as 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), with 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), to prove.
In total, the songstress 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.
September 1999, saw the release of her memoir, 1999’s From These Roots.
Aretha Franklin’s amazing work earned her numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including 18 Grammy Awards, including t a Grammy Awards Living Legend honor, Lifetime Achievement Award, 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.
With respect to the QUEEN who passed on August 16, 2018. Gone but never forgotten.