Aretha Franklin – Queen of Soul
Aretha Franklin is an American singer. She achieved the greatest success in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s. She is often called the Queen of Soul or Lady Soul for her flexible and powerful voice. Franklin was the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine (in June, 1968). On January 3, 1987 she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In November 2008, Rolling Stone magazine declared her the greatest singer in history.
Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. The girl grew up in Detroit (Michigan). She was the daughter of famed minister C. L. Franklin and gospel singer Barbara Franklin. Aretha and her sisters sang in the church choir. When she was 14 years old the first recordings of her singing were made. Aretha signed a contract with Columbia Records.
In 1956, Franklin recorded the hymn ‘‘Where We’ll Never Grow Old,’’ profoundly influenced by her mentor, Clara Ward.
In late 1966 she began working with producer Jerry Wexler and became the main star of Atlantic Records. Her single I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) brought her to Alabama, where she worked with the best musicians of the American South.
In 1968 Aretha was awarded the first Grammy in her career.
Her most important problem was the repertoire. Franklin didn’t have a permanent songwriter and had to use already well-known hits of other artists – The Drifters (Spanish Harlem), Dionne Warwick (I Say a Little Prayer), The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Sam Cooke.
Aretha’s last major success in the charts was a cover of the song Until You Come Back to Me (1974) by Stevie Wonder. This record closes superstar era in the life of Franklin. “Golden Age” of soul music was already in the past.
Franklin and George Michael duet topped the UK charts in 1986. In the 1990s A Rose Is Still a Rose recorded with Lauryn Hill (The Fugees) was her most successful single.
She was the subject of an all-star documentary tribute broadcast on public television, sang at the inauguration of Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Bill Clinton in 1993, and won a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1995.
Franklin’s duets with her goddaughter Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox, Mary J. Blige, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Estefan, Christina Aguilera and other artists were released in 2007 – Jewels in the Crown: All -Star Duets with the Queen.
In 2005 the singer was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US award.
Three television specials—Aretha in 1986; Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul in 1988; and Duets in 1993—have featured Franklin’s life and music.
Franklin became a mother at age 15 and had her second child two years later. So she was the mother of two boys by the time she reached seventeen.
Her marriage to her manager, Ted White, who had been known to rough her up from time to time, ended in divorce.
From 1978 to 1984 he was married to famous actor Glynn Turman, but the marriage ended in divorce.
In 1979, her father was shot by a robber in his home and remained in a coma for several years, never recovering. Her father was a friend of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Franklin sang at King’s funeral.