Aretha Franklin is an American singer and songwriter. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at the church of her father, minister C. L. Franklin’s church. In 1960, at the age of 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Think”. By the end of the 1960s decade she had gained the title “The Queen of Soul”. Franklin eventually recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history.
1. Her full name is Aretha Louise Franklin.
2. She was born on March 25, 1942.
3. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee.
4. Her parents were Barbara (née Siggers) and Clarence LaVaughn “C. L.” Franklin.
5. Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide.
6. Her father was an itinerant preacher originally from Shelby, Mississippi, while her mother was an accomplished piano player and vocalist.
7. Franklin’s mother died on March 7, 1952, before Franklin’s tenth birthday. Several women, including Franklin’s grandmother Rachel, and Mahalia Jackson took turns helping with the children at the Franklin home.
8. During this time, Franklin learned how to play piano by ear.
9. Aretha’s musical talents are completely self-taught. Her mother was an accomplished piano player and vocalist so the abilities ran in the family but Aretha learned to play piano by ear.
10. Franklin is the mother of four sons. She became pregnant at the age of just 12 and gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, on January 28, 1955. The father of the child is Donald Burk, a boy she knew from school.
11. Her father was a preacher and became known as the man with the “million-dollar voice” because he earned thousands of dollars giving sermons in churches across the country. People came from far and near to visit the Franklin household including Martin Luther King, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
12. One of her biggest hits, ‘Respect’, released in 1967, was originally written and performed by Otis Redding. Aretha’s version became an anthem for the civil rights and feminist movements.
13. At the 1998 Grammys, she performed the opera aria ‘Nessun Dorma’ when Pavarotti had to pull out last minute due to an illness. With only 20 minutes notice, Aretha pulled it off with critical success.
14. Aretha was godmother to Whitney Houston who called her “Auntie Ree”.
15. Despite multiple theories and hoaxes that she is dead or dying due to her extreme weight loss, we are glad to inform you that she is alive and well.
16. 7. Aretha’s got a fear of flying after experiencing a turbulent flight in 1984. She has refused to fly since which has limited her touring options considerably.
17. She’s won an incredible 18 Grammy Awards in her lifetime, other female artists who have won this many awards include Beyonce, Adele and Alison Krauss.
18. In 1987, she became the first female artist to be inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
19. Aretha has performed at the inaugurations of three U.S. Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
20. She was a former chain smoker who also struggled with alcoholism. She quit smoking in 1992.