Aretha Franklin

American singer, songwriter, and pianist (1942–2018)

Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American soul and R&B singer. She was called the "Queen of Soul". She was best known for her songs "Respect", "Think", "Chain of Fools",[1] and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin

(1942-03-25)March 25, 1942
DiedAugust 16, 2018(2018-08-16) (aged 76)
Musical career
OriginDetroit, Michigan, U.S.
Years active1956–2018

Early life and career: 1942–60

Aretha Franklin's birthplace at 406 Lucy Ave. in Memphis, Tennessee

Aretha Louise Franklin was born at a two-room house in Memphis located at 406 Lucy St.[2] She was the third of four children born to Barbara (née Siggers) and C.L. Franklin and the fifth of six overall in between past relationships by her parents. Franklin's family moved to Buffalo, when Franklin was two, and then by four, had settled in Detroit. Following the move to Detroit, Franklin's parents, who had a troubled marriage, split. Due to her father's work as a Baptist minister, Franklin was primarily raised by her grandmother, Rachel. Franklin suffered a tragedy when her mother died in Buffalo when Aretha was ten. Franklin sang in church at an early age and learned how to play piano by ear. By her late preteens, Franklin was regularly singing solo numbers in her father's New Bethel Baptist Church Archived 2011-05-26 at the Wayback Machine. Franklin's father, C.L. (short for Clarence LaVaughn), was a respected and popular preacher. Franklin grew up with local and national celebrities hanging out at her father's home including gospel greats Albertina Walker and her group The Caravans, Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward, three women who played a pivotal role in her vocal development as a child.

Later life: 1961–2018


Franklin married Ted White in 1961 but divorced him in 1969. She had four sons, one of which she shares with White.[3]

Franklin was married to Glynn Turman from 1978 to 1984.[4]

In 1998, Franklin performed at that year's VH1 Divas Live concert with Céline Dion, Carole King, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, and Gloria Estefan to sing songs like "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Testify", and "You've Got a Friend in Me".[5]



Franklin is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 18 competitive Grammys and two honorary Grammys. She had 20 #1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and two #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Respect" (1967) and "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (1987), a duet with George Michael. Since 1961, she had a total of 45 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. She also had 14 singles that sold more than one million – more than any other female artist. Between 1967 and 1982 she had 10 #1 R&B albums – more than any other female artist.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked her at top of its list "The Greatest Singers of All Time"[6] In 2005, she was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. On February 6, 2006, she performed, along with Aaron Neville, "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XL. The same year she got an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the Berklee College of Music.2010, Franklin received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Yale University.[7]

In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[8] She was the only featured singer at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.



In 2010, Franklin underwent cancer surgery for purported pancreatic cancer.[9] In 2013, she cancelled two tours due to an unknown illness.[10]

In 2017, Franklin cancelled many concerts due to an unknown illness. She asked her fans to keep her in their prayers.[11]

On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be gravely ill at her home around Detroit.[12][13][14] She was reported to be under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family. Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson, and others had visited her.[15] Franklin died at home in Detroit on August 16 of that year at 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer.[16][17] Business Insider reported that Franklin's net worth was $80 million at the time of her death and that she did not leave a will.[18]

Cultural portrayal


In 2020, singer and actress Jennifer Hudson will play Franklin in the 2020 movie about her life titled Respect.[19]

Grammy Awards


Franklin won 20 Grammy Awards in her lifetime, including two special awards for Living Legend (1991) and Lifetime Achievement (1994).

Aretha Franklin's Grammy Award Wins
# Year Category Genre Title
1 1968 Best Rhythm & Blues Recording R&B "Respect"
2 Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
3 1969 "Chain of Fools"
4 1970 "Share Your Love with Me"
5 1971 "Don't Play That Song for Me"
6 1972 "Bridge over Troubled Water"
7 1973 Young, Gifted and Black
8 Best Soul Gospel Performance Gospel Amazing Grace
9 1974 Best Female R&B Vocal Performance R&B "Master of Eyes"
10 1975 "Ain't Nothing like the Real Thing"
11 1982 "Hold On...I'm Comin'"
12 1986 "Freeway of Love"
13 1988 Aretha
14 Best R&B Performance – Duo or Group with Vocals "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"
(with George Michael)
15 1989 Best Soul Gospel Performance – Female Gospel One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism
* 1991 Living Legend Award Special
* 1994 Lifetime Achievement Award
16 2004 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance R&B "Wonderful"
17 2006 Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance "A House Is Not a Home"
18 2008 Best Gospel-Soul Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Gospel "Never Gonna Break My Faith"
(with Mary J. Blige)



Top 10 US Hot 100 singles

Year Title Peak
1967 9
"Respect" 1
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" 8
"Chain of Fools" 2
1968 "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone" 5
"Think" 7
"The House That Jack Built" 6
"I Say a Little Prayer" 10
1971 "Bridge over Troubled Water" / "Brand New Me" 6
"Spanish Harlem" 2
"Rock Steady" 9
1972 "Day Dreaming" 5
1973 "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" 3
1985 "Who's Zoomin Who?" 7
"Freeway of Love" 3
1987 "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (with George Michael) 1


  1. Hear Aretha Franklin (music and interviews) on the Pop Chronicles (1969).
  2. "Sister Ree's Scrapbook, An Aretha Franklin Photo Gallery 13". Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  3. "Remembering the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin's Life in Photos". Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  4. "Glynn Turman's Final Visit with Aretha Franklin Was 'Full of Closure,' Says Her Ex-Husband". Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  5. Vh1 Divas Live, Sony, 1998-10-06, retrieved 2018-08-25
  6. "Aretha Franklin | Rolling Stone Music | Lists". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  7. "Aretha Franklin Receives Honorary Doctorate From Yale". 24 May 2010.
  8. "Future Rock Legends - Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1987".
  9. "Aretha Franklin Sets The Record Straight on Her Health". Access Hollywood. January 13, 2011.
  10. Lewis, Randy (May 13, 2013). "Aretha Franklin cancels 2 shows for undisclosed ailment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
  11. Adam Graham (June 10, 2017). "Aretha Franklin gives Detroit something to remember". The Detroit News. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  12. "Aretha Franklin said to be 'seriously ill'". BBC Online. BBC News. August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  13. Huschka, Amy (August 14, 2018). "Aretha Franklin 'gravely ill' in Detroit". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  14. Dickson, James David (August 15, 2018), "Aretha Franklin honored at church prayer service", The Detroit News; accessed accessed August 15, 2018.
  15. Clarendon, Dan (August 14, 2018). "Stevie Wonder Visits Aretha Franklin As 'Queen of Soul' Rests in Hospice Care". US Magazine. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  16. Fekadu, Mesfin; Itale, Hillel (August 16, 2018). "'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin has died". Associated Press. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  17. Browne, Douglas Wolk,David (2018-08-16). "Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, Dead at 76". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-08-16.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. "Aretha Franklin died with a reported net worth of $80 million and no will". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  19. D'Alessandro, Anthony; D'Alessandro, Anthony (2020-03-26). "Aretha Franklin Biopic 'Respect' Heads To Christmas For Awards Season Rollout". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-03-26.