(photo: Associated Press)
Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan where her father C. L. Franklin was minister. She embarked on a secular career in 1960 at age 18, recording for Columbia Records but achieving only modest success. She achieved commercial success and acclaim after signing to Atlantic Records in 1966, with songs such as “Respect“, “Chain of Fools“, “Think“, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman“, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)“, and “I Say a Little Prayer“.
By the end of the 1960s, she was being called “The Queen of Soul“. She recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Spirit in the Dark (1970), Young, Gifted and Black (1972), Amazing Grace (1972), and Sparkle (1976) before experiencing problems with her record company. She left Atlantic in 1979 and signed with Arista Records, finding success with the albums Jump to It (1982) and Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985) and with her part in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. She received international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards of 1998, replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that year, she scored her final Top 40 song with “A Rose Is Still a Rose“, and her stage performance at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 was highly praised.
Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries, and 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in history. Franklin’s other well-known hits include “Rock Steady“, “Call Me“, “Ain’t No Way“, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)“, “Spanish Harlem“, “Day Dreaming“, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)“, “Something He Can Feel“, “Jump to It“, “Freeway of Love“, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who“, and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)“. She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance from 1968 through to 1975, and she is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the first female performer to be inducted, the National Medal of Arts, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. She is listed in two all-time lists by Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2008 she was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 greatest singer of all time.
Aretha Franklin’s funeral will be held Aug. 31 in her hometown of Detroit.
The late singer’s publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, said Friday (Aug. 17) that the funeral, to be held at Greater Grace Temple, is limited to the Queen of Soul’s family and friends.
Public viewings will take place Aug. 28-29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Franklin will be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, along with her father Rev. C.L. Franklin; sisters Carolyn Franklin and Erma Franklin; brother Cecil Franklin; and nephew Thomas Garrett.
Franklin died Thursday (Aug. 16) at her home in Detroit from pancreatic cancer. She was 76.