Award winning Hall of Fame singer Aretha Franklin died August 16 in her Detroit, Michigan home at the age of 76 as a result of pancreatic cancer.
The daughter of a preacher, Franklin began her singing career in the church. While she awed audiences with her multi-octave mezzo-soprano voice, Franklin was also an accompanied piano player who awed visitors to the Franklin family home when she was a child.
Known as the “Queen of Soul”, Franklin has amassed 18 Grammy Awards and 43 top 40 hit songs, is a Hall of Famer, and holds a number of firsts; including being the first woman to grace the halls of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In 2016 she was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame; she is also a member of the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and the UK Music Hall of Fame; and she is a Kennedy Center Honor.
While she collaborated with a number of artists including Luther Vandross, Elton John, and Whitney Houston; her number one hit “I Knew You Were Waiting” with British pop star George Michael marked the first time she had ever recorded with an artist who was not a person of colour.
Her other accomplishments include the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Grammy Legend Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. In 2008 the Recording Academy named Franklin the MusiCares Person of the Year.He voice graced the dedication of longtime friend Martin Luther King’s Memorial; the presidential inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton,and Barack Obama; and the funeral for civil right activist Rosa Parks. In 2006 when the Super Bowl came to Detroit, Franklin sang the National Anthem before the game.
Speaking on Franklin, music mogul Clive Davis said, she was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world.”
Franklin will forever be linked to her smash hit “RESPECT” but it was originally written and recorded by Otis Redding.
Franklin’s music has appeared in over 200 film and television productions including documentaries; mini-series; numerous television series including “Scandal”, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, “EastEnders”, and “Mruphy Brown”; the films “The First Wives Club”, “Waiting to Exhale”, the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street”, “Forrest Gump, and “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit”; awards shows, and a variety of reality competition programs.
Franklin herself appeared in an episode of the TV series “Room 222”, documentaries, talk shows, music and variety shows, late night shows, and awards shows.
She was born Aretha Louise Franklin on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee but was riased first in Buffalo New York and later Detroit where her father The Reverend C.L. Franklin was a Baptist pastor. Franklin Street in Buffalo is named for the Franklin family.
While Franklin’s father was a preacher, they were also a musical family. Sisters Carolyn and Erma sang with Aretha on her albums; and Carolyn was also a songwriter; as well as, Aretha herself.
Known best for her music, Franklin was a supporter of the NAACP, the Special Olympics, Feeding America, The Rainforest Foundation, and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
Predeceased by her parents Barbara and Clarence, Franklin is survived by her four sons Clarence, Edward, Ted, and Kecalf.
Aretha Franklin discography:
Recording her first album in 1956, she has released dozens of albums over her long musical career.
“The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin”
The Electrifying Aretha Franklin”
“Laughing on the Outside”
“Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington”
“Runnin’ Out of Fools”
“Songs of Faith”
“Yeah!!! In Person with Her Quartet”
“I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You”
“Take it Like You Give It”
“Aretha in Paris”
“Aretha Franklin: Live!”
“Once in a Lifetime”
“His Girls in Love with You”
“Spirit in the Dark”
“Live at Fillmore West”
“Young, Gifted and Black”
“Hey Now Hey: The Other Side of the Sky”
“Let Me in Your Life”
“With Everything I Feel in Me”
“Love All the Hurt Away”
“Jump to It”
“Get it Right”
“Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”
“One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism”
“Through the Storm”
“What You See is What You Sweat”
“Only a Look”
“A Rose is Still a Rose”
“So Damn Happy”
“A Woman Falling Out of Love”
“Sings the Great Diva Classics”
“A Brand New Me”
feature photo and “Chain of Fools” video courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame