Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, TN in 1942. Her mother, Barbara, was a gospel singer and her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin was a Baptist preacher. By the time she was 10 her father was a single parent raising her in Detroit.

Rev. Franklin was well known religious orator, who was also the colleague of key Civil Right Movement figures including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Adam Clayton Powell,arethafranklin-strc1205_00001_2x2_trn_p_col_orig_v001 Jr.[1] All of these experiences would shape the girl who would someday become queen.

Franklin, a self taught child prodigy, was a gifted pianist with a powerful voice. When she was 14 she released her first album, Songs of Faith. [2]

Although her musical foundation was firmly rooted in gospel, Franklin was influenced by jazz and the blues, including legendary greats Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, and Nat King Cole.

Franklinʻs career began to rise between 1967 and 1968. Her empowering cover of Otis Redding’s Respect reached number one in 1967 and later that same year she won her first two Grammy Awards. During this time she had ten top ten hits including, Chain of Fools, I Say a Little Prayer, and (You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman. Because of her chart domination she was anointed The Queen of Soul.

Her success continued through the decades.

In 1972 Franklin returned to her gospel roots and released the album Amazing Grace, which sold more than two million copies and was the best selling gospel album1000509261001_2099110631001_aretha-franklin-duet-with-george-michael at that time.

In 1980 she made an iconic cameo appearance in the now classic film
The Blues Brothers performing Think with comic greats John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. In 1985 Franklin dominated the charts with Freeway of Love. The following year her duet with the late George Michael, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), was number one on the pop charts.

In 1987 she made history when she became the first female artist to be inducted into the ’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, paving the way for other female greats such as The Supremes (1988), Eta James (1993), The Rondettes (2007) and The Queen of Disco, Donna Summer (2013).

During her illustrious career Franklin has:

  • Had 43 top 40 hits since 1961;
  • Won 18 Grammy Awards, her most recent occurring in 2007;
  • Performed at two presidential inaugurations (Clinton in 1993 and Obama in 2009); and
  • Been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush

This dynamic performer has proven, time and time again, why she is The Queen of Soul.


[1] (n.d.). Retrieved from

[2] (n.d.). Retrieved from