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Aretha Franklin

Aretha FranklinAKA Aretha Louise Franklin

Born: 25-Mar-1942
Birthplace: Memphis, TN
Died: 16-Aug-2018
Location of death: Detroit, MI
Cause of death: Cancer - Pancreatic
Remains: Buried, Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, MI

Gender: Female
Religion: Baptist
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The daughter of a prominent Baptist minister, Aretha Franklin not surprisingly was given her earliest opportunities to develop her talents through gospel music, singing in the choir of the New Bethel Baptist Church with her two sisters. By the age of twelve she was out in front of the choir as a featured soloist, and by 14 she had started her recording career with the album The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin, released on the Checker label in 1956. The next year, however, both her education and her singing ambitions were interrupted by her first pregnancy; within two years Franklin found herself the single mother of two boys, and making little progress establishing herself in the music industry. Finally, at the age of eighteen, she was able to get her future back on track when her grandmother took the children under her care and put the promising young singer on a train bound for New York City.

Once in New York, Franklin recorded a series of demo tapes that quickly attracted the attention of several different record labels. Offers from RCA and Motown were passed over in favor of a deal with Columbia, but this arrangement proved to be far from the best choice: the ten albums released over the next six years failed to realize the singer's potential, as Columbia had chosen to steer the singer towards more commercial, pop-oriented material rather than utilize her strengths as a gospel and blues vocalist. A more suitable home was found in 1966, when Franklin -- now under the management of first husband Ted White -- signed to Atlantic Records. The 1967 single I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Loved You) b/w Do-Right Woman, Do-Right Man gave a promising start to this new arrangement, launching her for the first time into the U.S. top ten. With producer Jerry Wexler at the helm, a series of popular releases followed throughout the end of the 60s, amongst them such classics as Respect, Chain of Fools, Think, You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, and Since You've Been Gone.

After several years spent once again leaning into pop territory with albums like Young, Gifted and Black (1971) and versions of contemporary songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Long and Winding Road, Aretha Franklin made a return to her gospel roots in 1972 with the release of Amazing Grace, featuring backing by James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir. By the end of the decade she had drifted into the disco-pop that was dominating the music scene at the time, and her career suffered a corresponding decline. After one last record for Atlantic (La Diva, 1979) she made a move to Arista, but -- despite work with then-hot names like George Benson and Luther Vandross and a cameo appearance in the 1980 comedy The Blues Brothers -- it wasn't until 1985's Who's Zoomin' Who? that she managed to release an album that rivaled the popularity of her early Atlantic output, returning to the top ten with singles for Freeway of Love, Another Night, and the title track Who's Zoomin' Who.

In the remaining years of the 1980s, Franklin kept a presence in the mainstream through duets with the likes of George Michael, Elton John and Whitney Houston, as well as making a second return to gospel with 1987's One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism -- the same year that she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the 1990s she remained largely absent from the music scene, beginning the decade with What You See Is What You Sweat (1991), but not following it until the hip-hop influenced release A Rose Is Still A Rose in 1998. Occasional performances, such as her appearance at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration and various television events, took place in the interim. Her first offering for the 2000s arrived in the form of So Damn Happy (2003), which featured contributions from young performers such as Mary J. Blige.

Father: Reverend Clarence L. Franklin (Baptist minister, b. circa 1915, d. 1984, shot during a burglary, five year coma)
Mother: Barbara (musician)
Sister: Erma Franklin (musician)
Sister: Carolyn Franklin (musician)
Brother: Cecil Franklin
Husband: Ted White (her then-manager, m. 1961, div. 1969)
Son: Ted White, Jr. (b. 1969)
Boyfriend: Ken Cunningham
Son: Kecalf
Husband: Glynn Turman (actor, m. 11-Apr-1978, div. 1984)
Boyfriend: William Wilkerson ("Willie", broken engagement, 2012)

    Aretha Franklin
    Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
    Grammy Best R&B Solo Vocal Performance, Female (1967)
    Grammy Best Rhythm & Blues Recording (1967)
    Grammy Best R&B Performance, Female (1968)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1969)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1970)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1971)
    Grammy Best Soul Gospel Performance (1972)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1972)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1973)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1974)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1981)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1985)
    Grammy Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (with George Michael) (1987)
    Grammy Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female (1987)
    Grammy Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female (1988)
    Grammy Hall of Fame Award (1998)
    Grammy Hall of Fame Award (1999)
    Grammy Hall of Fame Award (1999)
    Grammy Legend Award (2001)
    Grammy Hall of Fame Award (2001)
    Grammy Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance (2003)
    National Medal of Arts 1999
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1987
    Kennedy Center Honor 1994
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 9-Nov-2005
    Funeral: Martin Luther King (1968)
    Disturbing the Peace Detroit, MI (1969)
    Risk Factors: Acrophobia, Aviophobia

    Amazing Grace (12-Nov-2018) · Herself
    Muscle Shoals (26-Jan-2013) · Herself
    The Zen of Bennett (18-Apr-2012) · Herself
    Blues Brothers 2000 (6-Feb-1998) · Mrs. Murphy
    Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (3-Oct-1990) · Herself
    The Blues Brothers (16-Jun-1980) · Soul Food Cafe Owner

Official Website:

Author of books:
Aretha: From These Roots (1999, memoir)

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