Aretha Franklin

  • 09 June 2004

Date of birth

25th March, 1942




1st January, 1970



Aretha Franklin (born 25.3.1942)
Aretha Franklin is a legendary American soul singer. She has been awarded with 20 Grammy Awards and during 1968 and 1975 the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy was nicknamed 'The Aretha Award'.

Childhood: Aretha was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father was a Baptist minister, married to Barbara Siggers Franklin, until they separated, when Aretha was six. Four years later, Barbara died of a heart attack, and the family moved to Detroit.

Franklin was considered something of a child prodigy, for both her vocal and piano-playing skills and she had signed a record deal with Checker Records.

Early Career & Impending Fame: Aretha's first two children were born in 1954 and 1956, putting a brief dampener on her musical career. Inspired by Sam Cooke and Dinah Washington, she decided to concentrate her efforts on pop music, rather than gospel. Turning down contracts from RCA and Motown, Aretha eventually signed with Columbia Records in 1960. Her early hits with the label included 'Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)', 'Today I Sing The Blues' and 'Operation Heartbreak'.

Disappointed with her lack of commercial success, Franklin switched to Atlantic Records and in 1967, released 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You). It was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Her next single, 'R.E.S.P.E.C.T.' was the track that truly launched Aretha Franklin to fame. Her debut album, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, soon sold over a million copies and she released a chain of hit singles, including '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman'.

Over the next few years, Franklin continued her reign of success with tracks such as 'Think', 'I Say A Little Prayer' (originally by Dionne Warwick) and 'Spanish Harlem' (originally by Ben E. King), which reached number two in the US charts.

Labelled 'Queen of Soul' by the media, Aretha Franklin went on to sell millions of albums, including Amazing Grace (1972) and the slightly less successful Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky). In 1974, 'Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)' was a number three hit in the US but the mid 1970s saw the rise in popularity of disco music and Aretha's favourable position with her record label began to decline. Her 1975 album You saw disappointing sales figures and the industry appeared to have shifted its focus to younger singers such as Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and Donna Summer.

Sparkle, released in 1976, was produced by Curtis Mayfield and was Aretha's first Gold-certified album since Amazing Grace. However, its successors (Sweet Passion, Almighty Fire and La Diva) fared less well. In 1979, her contract with Atlantic Records drew to a close.

Return to Grace: In 1980, Aretha Franklin appeared in the film The Blues Brothers, singing 'Think'. Later that year, she signed a deal with Arista Records and a duet with George Benson, 'Love All the Hurt Away', launched Aretha back to the top of the charts. Her 1982 album, Jump To It, was produced by Luther Vandross and earned her her first Gold Disc award since 1976. The following year, the pair collaborated on Get It Right, with comparatively poor results.

In 1985, she released Who's Zoomin' Who?, her first ever Platinum certified album, featuring a duet with The Eurythmics and the huge hit 'Freeway of Love'. The next year, she released Aretha, which included a duet with George Michael. The cover's artwork was the last work produced by Andy Warhol before he died.

1987 saw a return to gospel for Aretha with One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, which was followed by Through the Storm and What You See is What You Sweat.

In 1998, Franklin released A Rose Is Still A Rose: a more contemporary effort than her previous albums. The title track was produced by Lauryn Hill of the Fugees and proved to be a huge hit for Aretha. Subsequent releases include 2003's So Damn Happy and 2007 duets album, Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets With The Queen.

Music News Round-Up: Elton John UK Tour Dates, Long-Lost Aretha Franklin Film And Vampire Weekend Album Four

By Ed Biggs in Music / Festivals on 11 November 2018

Aretha Franklin Elton John Vampire Weekend

The week's non-Spice Girls music news rounded up, including Elton John's farewell tour and the first All Points East 2019 announcements.


A documentary film about Aretha Franklin, capturing the power of her live performances, is to see the light of day after nearly 50 years in the editing room.

Amazing Grace will premiere in New York City on Monday November 12th as part of the DOC NYC film festival. Shot by director Sydney Pollack over two nights in January 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles – the same performance that gave us the multi-million-selling live album Amazing Grace – the proposed project was beset by problems.

Continue reading: Music News Round-Up: Elton John UK Tour Dates, Long-Lost Aretha Franklin Film And Vampire Weekend Album Four

Aretha Franklin Didn't Make A Will Before She Died

By Charlotte Court in Music / Festivals on 03 September 2018

Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul's significant estate may become a bone of contention between family members

Aretha Franklin's death shook the globe as millions mourned the loss of the Queen of Soul. However, among the tears and tributes, it seems her family are embarking on a legal feud for the superstar's wealth following reports the 76-year-old did not make a will.

Aretha Franklin passed away from pancreatic cancer

The RESPECT hitmaker's £60 million estate was expected to be split equally between her four sons but now Willie Wilkerson, Aretha's long term on-off lover, says he deserves a piece too.

Continue reading: Aretha Franklin Didn't Make A Will Before She Died

Renee Lawless, Aaron O'Connell and Peter Parros at the funeral service of Aretha Franklin held at Greater Grace Church in Detroit. The service saw guests the likes of Ariana Grande and Bill Clinton, and was broadcast live on television - Detroit, Michigan, United States - Friday 31st August 2018

When She Did It Better: The Ultimate Aretha Franklin Covers Playlist

By Holly Mosley in Music / Festivals on 25 August 2018

Aretha Franklin

Ten amazing covers recorded by Aretha Franklin.

It's been nine days since the legendary Queen of Soul passed away, leaving behind a legacy of some of the most astounding music in chart history. While Aretha Franklin may have had hits with 'R.E.S.P.E.C.T.' and 'You Make Me Feel', she also recorded some incredible covers of everyone from Ben E. King to The Beatles.

Image caption Aretha Franklin at the 'Selma' premiere

Here are ten of Aretha Franklin's best covers:

Continue reading: When She Did It Better: The Ultimate Aretha Franklin Covers Playlist

Album Of The Week: Remembering Aretha Franklin With 'Spirit In The Dark'

By Holly Mosley in Music / Festivals on 24 August 2018

Aretha Franklin

'Spirit in the Dark' was released on this day (August 24th) in 1970.

It's something of a coincidence that an Aretha Franklin record is our Album of the Week. It so happens that her legendary 'Spirit in the Dark' was released exactly 48 years ago today via Atlantic Records - her second album to be released in one year.

Image caption Aretha Franklin - Spirit in the Dark

It was the Queen of Soul's seventeenth studio album and, while it wasn't as much of a commercial success as it was a critical one, it remains one of her classic records - and a must-listen for all who loved her.

Continue reading: Album Of The Week: Remembering Aretha Franklin With 'Spirit In The Dark'

Madonna Defends Her VMAs Tribute To Aretha Franklin After Backlash

By Ed Biggs in Music / Festivals on 22 August 2018

Madonna Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Pop's tribute to the Queen of Soul didn't go down very well at the 2018 VMAs.

Madonna has addressed the backlash that followed her speech at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at the weekend, after she was criticised for being disrespectful in her tribute to the late Aretha Franklin.

The pop icon, who celebrated her 60th birthday last week, was accused of being tone-deaf in her five-minute monologue about her own career. Some were annoyed that a white artist had been selected to pay tribute to Franklin (who passed away on Thursday), while others expressed disbelief that Madge spent virtually the entire time talking about herself and her own journey to becoming a star.

However, she took to Instagram days later to defend herself, explaining that the organisers of the VMAs had asked her to share “any anecdotes” about the late Queen of Soul while presenting the Album of the Year award on Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Continue reading: Madonna Defends Her VMAs Tribute To Aretha Franklin After Backlash

Full 2018 MTV VMA Winners! (And Why Everyone Was Disappointed In Madonna)

By Holly Mosley in Music / Festivals on 21 August 2018

Madonna Camila Cabello Aretha Franklin

Camila Cabello wins big, and Madonna makes a dodgy tribute.

The 2018 MTV VMAs were finally handed out last night but rather than the event being a cause for celebration, many people are unhappy with how everything went down. From the winners to the speeches, there was little that inspired Video Music Awards viewers this year. Ratings are not expecting to be at an all time high.

Image caption Aretha Franklin at the Billboard Women in Music Luncheon

The 76-year-old soul legend is thought to be extremely ill back home in Detroit after a lifetime of battling health issues and serious illnesses. Fans can take comfort in the fact that she is currently 'surrounded by family and people close to her', but reports are not looking good for her.

Continue reading: Aretha Franklin Could Be Fighting Her Final Health Battle

Aretha Franklin - New York premiere of 'Selma' at Ziegfeld Theater - Red carpet arrivals at Ziegfeld Theater - New York City, New York, United States - Sunday 14th December 2014

Aretha Franklin Wednesday 3rd October 2012 Aretha Franklin leaves her midtown hotel

Aretha Franklin - Aretha Franklin wax sculpture Thursday 2nd February 2012 Madame Tussauds New York launches a special exhibit in celebration of Black History Month

Beyonce Knowles, Aretha Franklin and Usher Tuesday 17th May 2011 during Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular at the United Center in Chicago Chicago, Illinois