Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist…..who began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan…..where her father C. L. Franklin was minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular musical career as a recording artist for Columbia Records….and while her career did not immediately flourish…..she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” and “I Say a Little Prayer” propelled her past her musical peers…..and by the end of the 1960’s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as “The Queen of Soul“.
Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and 20 # 1 R&B singles….as she is the most charted female artist in history. Franklin’s well-known hits include “Rock Steady”, “Call Me”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Spanish Harlem”, “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)” ….which is a duet with George Michael. She won 18 Grammy Awards…. including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance from 1968 to 1975….and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time….while having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career….when 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…..and was also 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 # 1 on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” ….and # 9 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.”