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Franklin performing at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009
|Birth name||Aretha Louise Franklin|
March 25, 1942 |
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|Genres||Soul, jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, funk, rock|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, pianist|
Aretha Records (2004–)
|Associated acts||Sweet Inspirations, Carolyn Franklin, Erma Franklin, Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston, George Benson, George Michael, Michael McDonald, Eurythmics, Luther Vandross|
Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist. In a recording career that has spanned over half a century, Franklin's repertoire has included gospel, jazz, blues, R&B, pop, rock and funk. Franklin is known as one of the most important popularizers of the soul music genre and is referred to as the Queen of Soul, a title she was given early in her career. Franklin, the daughter of prominent Baptist minister and activist C. L. Franklin, began her singing career singing in her father's church at the age of ten and started recording four years later. After several years in the gospel circuit and with her father's blessing, she formed a secular pop music career at the age of eighteen, signing with Columbia Records, where she was branded by its CEO John Hammond as his most important act since Billie Holiday. Franklin's Columbia period wasn't as successful as hoped and in late 1966, Franklin switched over to Atlantic Records, where she began recording a string of popular hits including "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Think", "Chain of Fools" and what later became her signature song, "Respect".
After a brief lull in 1969, Franklin continued to record a string of popular singles throughout the early 1970s, reaching her peak as an albums artist with 1970's Spirit in the Dark, 1971's Young, Gifted & Black and the 1972 gospel record, Amazing Grace, which later became one of the best-selling gospel albums of all time and was the biggest-selling album in gospel music for over 25 years. Franklin's success in Atlantic peaked after the release of the singles, "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)", "I'm in Love" and "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and the 1976 soundtrack to the movie, Sparkle and Franklin left the label in 1980 to sign with Clive Davis' Arista Records label where she switched over from soul and funk music to a more conservative urban adult contemporary sound in the albums, Aretha and Love All the Hurt Away, before regaining commercial success with the 1982 album, Jump to It, produced by R&B hitmaker Luther Vandross. In 1984, Franklin added modern day pop rock and dance elements to her sound, which was integral to the success of her 1985 album, Who's Zoomin' Who?, which spawned the hits "Freeway of Love", "Who's Zoomin' Who" and the Eurythmics featured "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves". The 1986 release of Aretha featured her last number-one hit single with the George Michael duet "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me". Afterwards Franklin returned to a lull in her career until the release of 1998's A Rose Is Still a Rose, which incorporated modern day contemporary R&B and which the title track returned Franklin to the top 40 of the pop charts.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" list, as well as the ninth greatest artist of all time. She has won 18 Grammys and received two honorary Grammys. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin is planned to be inducted to the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in August 2012.
Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee to Barbara (née Siggers) and Clarence LaVaughn Franklin. Franklin's father, Clarence, otherwise known as "C. L." Franklin, was a rising itinerant preacher, who moved to Memphis from Shelby, Mississippi. Within two years after Aretha's birth, however, Franklin's father again moved, this time up north to Buffalo, New York. The initial reasoning behind Franklin's move to Buffalo was because Franklin sought to find better opportunities and reach a bigger church audience as compared to the South. However, it was debated Franklin moved after word reached about him impregnating a teenage member of his Memphis church and he moved north to avoid the scandal and a possible court case.
Franklin wasn't six yet when her father moved to and eventually settled in Detroit where he built his own church, the New Bethel Baptist Church. Following the move, Franklin's parents separated after a contentious marriage, with Barbara Franklin settling in Buffalo, New York where she became a nurse. Aretha would later recall spending time with her mother at her house in Buffalo during summertime visits though it had been debated Franklin's mother had abandoned her, a charge Franklin has constantly denied. Franklin wasn't yet ten when her mother died suddenly in Buffalo. While she and her siblings attended her funeral, it was said their father either couldn't or refuse to attend. Shortly after her mother was buried, Aretha started singing solos at her father's church. Her father's local celebrity in Detroit helped to attract attention to Franklin's home. Franklin remembered seeing several celebrities and prominent public figures at her house. Among those that would later influenced her music and vocal style included gospel musicians Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward and The Caravans founder Albertina Walker, while other musicians such as Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson and fellow preacher Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also became prominent visitors. Franklin began playing the piano at a young age and knew much of how to play by ear. Franklin recalled that when it came to musical taste, her father wasn't strict, allowing Franklin to listen to a variety of genres including blues, jazz and R&B.
By the mid-fifties, Franklin's father was recording for JVB Records, becoming one of the few preachers to record an album full of sermons, which also included musical performances by the minister along with his choir. In 1956, Franklin started bringing his daughter with him to perform on the gospel circuit. That year, Franklin's father recorded his 14-year-old daughter's gospel performances at a local church and helped Franklin reach a deal with JVB Records where she recorded the album, Songs of Faith, and also released her first single, "Never Grow Old", which would later be reissued by Checker Records numerous times. Franklin's performances on the gospel circuit continued until she reached 17, by then Franklin had a desire to record pop music, something always frowned upon in the ministry. However, her father C. L. approved of her decision, and did the same with his eldest daughter Erma, and helped both daughters reach deals with several record labels outside of Detroit. Prior to signing her first deal, Motown CEO Berry Gordy pursued both Erma and Aretha to sign with Motown. C. L. Franklin, however, passed on the offer thinking the label was too local to promote their talents. Eventually, Aretha settled for Columbia Records.
Franklin's first Columbia single, "Today I Sung the Blues", was released in September 1960, becoming her first charted success, it eventually reached #10 on Billboard's R&B chart. Her debut album Aretha followed in January of the following year, recorded with the Ray Bryant Combo. Franklin's second single, "Operation Heartbreak", repeated the R&B chart success of Franklin's debut single, reaching #7, followed by another R&B top ten single, "Won't Be Long". Franklin's recordings were often compared to that of Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday, singers Franklin admired. Columbia CEO and founder John Hammond, upon hearing Franklin, felt she had what it took to be the next Billie Holiday and recorded Franklin strictly in jazz-influenced pop.
Later Hammond acknowledged that he felt the label didn't understand Franklin's background in gospel music and failed to bring that aspect out in her first secular recordings. Later in 1961, Franklin had her first top 40 single on the pop chart with a ballad rendition of "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody". While Franklin would later say she enjoyed her tenure on Columbia Records, most of the records were considered to be not artistically satisfying to Aretha's style and would later be forgotten about following Franklin's rise to stardom with her earthier R&B recordings with Atlantic. Franklin was placed on the list of jazz magazine Downbeat's top ten best jazz vocalists in 1961, 1962 and 1963. One of her most significant recordings during her early Columbia period was the ballad, "Skylark", recorded in 1962. The song previewed what was to come of Franklin as parts of her gospel singing was showcased in the song.
After a well received tribute album to Dinah Washington, Columbia Records switched paths from their early hopes of jazz stardom to more commercial pop music for Franklin as well as some blues music. The latter music showed up in Franklin's 1964 hit, "Runnin' Out of Fools". Afterwards, Franklin was given covers of Motown hits and other girl group sounding hit singles to record as well as original songs such as "One Step Ahead" and "Cry Like a Baby", which was a top 30 R&B recording and was one of the first hits written by the team of Ashford & Simpson. Following this, Franklin and Columbia opted not to renew their contract. Under the advice of her then-husband and manager, Ted White, Franklin decided to sign with top R&B label, Atlantic Records, signing with them in December 1966. Following her success with Atlantic, Columbia began reissuing Franklin's Columbia material and releasing Columbia recordings that Franklin hadn't released before she left the label in an attempt to capitalize on her success.
After signing with Atlantic, Franklin was sent to the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record her first songs with the label alongside the respected Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. It was in Muscle Shoals that Franklin cut her first Atlantic recording, the blues ballad "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)". While busy recording another song at the studio, Franklin's husband and one of the musicians got into a drunken argument over Franklin, leading to the couple returning to their house in New York, where they hid for several weeks. Eventually, Franklin returned to record at New York's Atlantic Studios to finish her vocals on the song, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man". "I Never Loved a Man" would be released in February 1967 and become Franklin's first significant hit single, reaching #9 on the pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart. The b-side, "Do Right Woman", helped Aretha's first Atlantic single to become a double-sided hit on the R&B chart, where it peaked at #37.
In April, Atlantic issued her second single, the Otis Redding song, "Respect", which was re-arranged by the song's producers Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin and Aretha into a gospel-sounding shouter with Franklin later incorporating call and response vocals with her two sisters, Erma and Carolyn present. With Wexler's allowance, Franklin added in the ad-lib, "r-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to me, r-e-s-p-e-c-t, take care, TCB", which led to her sisters afterwards shouting out, "sock it to me" repeatedly. The song became a simultaneous #1 hit on the pop and R&B charts. "Respect" later won Franklin her first two Grammys. She eventually won eight consecutive Grammys under the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category. The success of "I Never Loved a Man" and "Respect" helped its parent album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, to reach the top ten of the pop albums chart. Franklin's version of "Respect" later was hailed as a 1960s anthem. Franklin's hit streak continued throughout 1967 and 1968 with songs such as "Baby I Love You", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Chain of Fools".
During a 1967 performance in a Chicago dance, deejay Pervis Spann crowned Franklin a tiara and announced her as "Lady Soul". Further hits increased Franklin's reputation including "Think", "Ain't No Way", "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone" and "I Say a Little Prayer", the latter song boasted some of her best success worldwide, especially in the UK where it became Aretha's biggest-charted single in the country and remains so for Franklin as a solo artist. Franklin also proved to be successful with her albums: Lady Soul (taken from the title she was given in 1967) and Aretha Now peaked at the top ten of the American albums chart with Lady Soul boasting three top ten singles, which was then a record. During this period, some of her recordings, mainly "Respect" and "Think" were used as means of protest by activists during the civil rights movement of that time period. Franklin continued to record top 40 hits in 1969 but dealt with some personal problems, including the breakup of her acrimonious marriage to her manager Ted White, which ended that year in divorce. She returned to number-one on the R&B charts with her cover version of "Share Your Love with Me" later that year and reached the position again in early 1970 with the self-composed ballad, "Call Me", which was her first composition without posting any credit from Ted White, who allegedly bullied his way to composition credit rights for some of Franklin's compositions, much to Franklin's chagrin.
In late 1969, influenced by the Afrocentrism and the black nationalist movement that emerged that year, Franklin reinvented her fashion sense, adapting traditional African garb and wearing "The Natural", or the Afro, which had by now become a trendy hairstyle. During this time, Franklin incorporated rock songs into her act, having success with records such as The Band's "The Weight" and The Beatles songs, "Let It Be" and "Eleanor Rigby". Franklin's 1970 albums, This Girl's in Love with You and Spirit in the Dark showcased the singer's artistic growth both vocally and as a composer. A cover of Ben E. King's "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" became another top 20 hit for Franklin in the US and reached the top ten in the UK. In 1971, Franklin made history by becoming the first black performer to headline at Bill Graham's Fillmore West where she later released a live album from the performance. Following these triumphs, Franklin was starting to be referred to as "The Queen of Soul", a title which she's kept since.
That same year, Franklin had top ten pop hits with her cover of "Spanish Harlem" and her self-penned composition, "Rock Steady", which fully embraced funk music. Franklin released her next album, Young, Gifted & Black, in early 1972, which became a critical and commercial success and boasted another top ten hit, the ballad "Day Dreaming". The album also was one of the first instances an artist had recorded a cover of an Elton John song with Franklin taking John's gospel-influenced "Border Song" song. Later that year, Franklin recorded her second gospel album, Amazing Grace, which became the best-selling album of her career, selling over two million copies. At one point, Amazing Grace was also the best-selling gospel album of all time. Franklin's next album, 1973's Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), was co-produced by Franklin and Quincy Jones, and featured the hit, "Angel", which was co-composed by Carolyn Franklin. The album's experimental sound however wasn't as successful and failed to reach gold unlike Franklin's previous recordings. Later in 1973, Franklin recorded and released the song, "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)", which peaked at number-one R&B and number-three pop. The album that featured the song, Let Me In Your Life, was released later that year and nearly went gold featuring her hit covers of Wilson Pickett's and Bobby Womack's "I'm in Love" and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" in 1974.
That album started another phase in Franklin's fashion sense as she left behind her Afrocentric-inspired wardrobe of the late 1960s and early 1970s and adapted a more glamorous style of dress. However, the "new" Aretha that emerged during that period did little to bring back her past success as albums such as With Everything I Feel in Me and You, released in 1974 and 1975 respectively, failed to generate any hits on either the pop or R&B charts. The focus of Franklin's label Atlantic by then had shifted more to other acts such as The Spinners, Roberta Flack and Led Zeppelin and this period started her decline in her relationship with the company, particularly with Jerry Wexler. In early 1976, her eight-year streak of winning the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy was broken by then-emerging singer Natalie Cole. Later in 1976, Franklin returned to the top of the soul charts with "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" from the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack of the film, Sparkle. The Sparkle album became her last Atlantic album to reach gold.
However, the success wouldn't last long. Franklin's next three albums, the Lamont Dozier and Carole Bayer Sager-produced Sweet Passion, the Mayfield produced Almighty Fire and the Van McCoy-produced La Diva tanked on the charts and no single released from those albums charted on the Hot 100 during this tumultuous period. Franklin continued performing in the US and worldwide but was now building a reputation on living comfortably off royalties so that she only performed on occasion rather than as normal procedure. Aretha would later win the masters off her post-1974 Atlantic recordings. Following the release of La Diva in 1979, Atlantic decided not to renew her contract.
In 1980, Franklin gained something of a new audience after a cameo appearance in The Blues Brothers film where she appeared as the wife of Matt "Guitar" Murphy and engages in a brief war of words with Dan Aykroyd's and John Belushi's characters Elwood and Jake Blues, over Murphy leaving his restaurant to perform with them again in which Franklin afterwards performed "Think". Afterwards, Franklin signed a contract with Clive Davis' Arista Records label. Later in 1980, she issued the Aretha album, which featured a minor hit, "United Together", which became a #3 R&B hit. The music on Aretha and its 1981 follow-up, Love All the Hurt Away, furthered Franklin away from earthy soul and into a more glossier and conservative form of R&B music labeled as urban contemporary. The title track off her 1981 album produced another R&B hit with duet vocals provided by George Benson.
In 1982, Franklin returned to the top of the R&B charts with the Jump to It album boasted by the success of the title track, which became her first number-one R&B single in five years. The album also became her first to go gold after her first two Arista albums had failed to reach that position. The album was produced by then R&B hitmaker Luther Vandross, who was then called in to produce Franklin's follow-up, 1983's Get It Right. However, that record failed, selling less than 200,000 copies, despite the title track becoming another number-one R&B hit for Franklin.
Following its release and the subsequent death of her minister father, C. L., in 1984, Franklin laid low for a few months before returning to the studio in her native Detroit to record her next Arista album which was later titled, Who's Zoomin' Who? The inspiration behind the making of the album was due to Aretha listening to the radio and liking what she heard and opted for "a younger sound". This album was produced by rising producer Narada Michael Walden. The album included dance, pop and modern rock elements and would return Franklin to the top ten of the pop charts. "Freeway of Love" became her biggest hit in years reaching #3 on the pop chart and #1 R&B while the follow-up, "Who's Zoomin' Who" reached #7 pop and #2 R&B and was co-penned by Franklin, partly because she inspired the song title. A third single, "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves", featuring the Eurythmics, peaked at #18 on the pop charts. The videos for "Freeway of Love" and "Sisters" made Franklin popular with music video audiences and her success was compared to another sixties R&B contemporary, Tina Turner's own groundbreaking success years after leaving Ike Turner.
Franklin followed up this success with the Aretha album in 1986. The album spawned another series of hits including "Jimmy Lee", a cover of the Rolling Stones hit "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and the #1 George Michael duet, "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" later going gold. To help promote the album, Franklin filmed a Showtime concert TV special. Around this time, Franklin also contributed her voice to several TV networks including a theme song for ABC TV titled "Together" in 1986 and the hit series, "A Different World", where her rendition of the theme song remained part of the show from its second season in 1988 through its fifth season in 1992. However, Franklin's success was not as long lasting. Due to an accident in a plane she suffered in 1983, Franklin missed schedule for performances overseas which caused a pain for Arista promoters overseas. Also a problem was Franklin's vocals, which was starting to hamper after years of cigarette smoking. Franklin started adapting to a raspier, low tone starting with performances in 1982 and 1983. In spite of this, she remained a popular concert draw. In 1987, Franklin recorded her first gospel album in fifteen years, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, in hopes of having similar success with that record as she had had with Amazing Grace. However, the album failed to find an audience. Franklin returned to the pop charts in 1989 with the release of the Elton John duet, "Through the Storm" and the subsequent release of the album of the same name. However, the album failed to become a success and a much publicized duet with fellow label mate and chart-topping singer Whitney Houston titled "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" failed to bring much notice peaking below the top 40.
Franklin's attempt at revamping her sound with new jack swing productions in the 1991 album, What You See Is What You Sweat was badly received and was another commercial failure. Following this, Franklin quit chain smoking and spent the next several years reviving parts of her vocal style. In 1994, she contributed to the Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit soundtrack recording the dance song, "A Deeper Love", which became Franklin's biggest single in years reaching #5 in the UK. Later that year, following the release of an Arista best-of, Franklin recorded the Babyface compositions, "Honey" and "Willing to Forgive", with the latter single becoming her first top 40 single in five years. Franklin later contributed vocals to the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack recording the song "It Hurts Like Hell" and following a couple years on the road, recorded the hit album, A Rose Is Still a Rose, which success was mainly due to the success of its title track, which became her last top 40 single on the Billboard Hot 100 nearly 40 years after recording her first one. Throughout 1998, Franklin had success with TV performances including the 1998 Grammys when she performed Luciano Pavarotti's rendition of the opera ballad, "Nessun Dorma", generating a standing ovation at the end of her performance, and a show-stopping performance at VH-1's Divas Live.
In 1999, Franklin issued her autobiography, Aretha: From These Roots. Franklin would not release her next album until 2003 when she issued the album, So Damn Happy. In between then, she contributed to albums and songs by several artists including K-Ci and JoJo on a song titled "Angel", and Mary J. Blige on the song, "Don't Waste Your Time", featured on Blige's 1999 album, Mary. The So Damn Happy album featured a minor R&B hit with "Wonderful", which later nabbed Franklin another Grammy. After the release of So Damn Happy, Franklin decided to not renew her contract with Arista after 23 years with the label. In 2004, she began work on her album, A Woman Falling Out of Love, due to be the first release off her dormant Aretha's Records, in 2005. In the meantime, Arista released a duets compilation, 2007's Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen, which featured another minor R&B hit with the Fantasia duet, "Put You Up on Game". That same year, Franklin issued her first Christmas album, This Christmas, Aretha, which was initially released as a Borders Group exclusive and was later issued on the DMI label.
In 2008, she won her 18th career Grammy in the gospel category on the song "Never Break My Faith" with Mary J. Blige. A year after, she received news for performing at the inauguration for then newly elected President Barack Obama performing the song "My Country 'Tis of Thee", with her attire, including her church hat, becoming a popular item online and the subject of several internet memes. The following year, Franklin received an honorary music degree from Yale. By 2010, Franklin announced that she had sold her rights to movie producers to produce a biopic on her in which would be loosely based off Franklin's 1999 memoirs, Aretha: From These Roots. Franklin had initially planned for Halle Berry to play her in the featured role but Berry turned down her offer in January 2011. Franklin has since picked singer Audra McDonald to play her.
In May 2011, commemorating on her 50th anniversary since the release of her first non-gospel recording, Franklin issued her 38th studio release, A Woman Falling Out of Love through WalMart. Franklin recorded two duets with longtime friend, Ronald Isley of The Isley Brothers, recording "The Way We Were" on Aretha's album, while recording "You've Got a Friend" on Isley's record, Mr. I. Later in September, Franklin contributed duet vocals to the Tony Bennett rendition of "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" off his Duets II album.
Aretha, by her own admission grew up fast as a child and discovered boys at the age of thirteen, getting pregnant just three months after becoming a teenager. A relationship with one boy led to the birth of her first son, Clarence, named after her father, on March 28, 1956, just three days after she turned 14. In January 1957, before reaching 15, Franklin had another son, Edward, with another boy. She never identified by name the father of either child. Her grandmother, Rachel, raised the boys while Aretha pursued her singing career. Rachel lived in a guest house behind C.L. Franklin's LaSalle Street home. (The Franklin family moved from their home on Boston Street in Detroit's North End section to LaSalle Street during the late 1950s.)
Franklin had a third son, Ted White, Jr. (known professionally as Teddy Richards), with her manager and former family friend Ted White, Sr., born in 1964. Teddy is the musical director and guitarist of his mother's touring band. A relationship with road manager Ken Cunningham produced a fourth son, Kecalf, who was named after the first initials of their parents' names. Kecalf, her youngest-born child, was born three days after his mother's 28th birthday. In 2010, Aretha's son Edward was attacked by three people at a Detroit gas station near Plymouth Road and Evergreen. Kecalf Franklin, Aretha's youngest son, is currently a rapper and produces gospel recordings.
Against her father's wishes, Aretha married her first husband, Ted White, in front of a justice of the peace in Ohio in 1961 when she was nineteen. White later replaced Aretha's father as her manager in 1967. According to close friends, White was physically abusive and it's suggested White's physical abuse and philandering were the cause of Franklin's heart-wrenching vocals on her best-known recordings during the Atlantic years. Her producer, Jerry Wexler once called Franklin "the lady of mysterious sorrows" since Aretha didn't tell anyone her personal story. Following a 1968 cover article in Time magazine in which her abusive marriage and a claim that her mother abandoned her at a young age led Franklin to not give any interviews to media groups and increasing her privacy.
After ending her affair with Ken Cunningham after a seven-year on-again, off-again relationship, Franklin married actor Glynn Turman on April 11, 1978 at her father's New Bethel Baptist Church with her father presiding over the ceremony. Aretha became a surrogate stepmother to Turman's three children from a previous marriage. Due to their schedules, however, it wasn't long before their marriage fell apart despite living together in Franklin's mansion in Encino. In late 1982, Franklin and Turman separated after only four years, eventually divorcing in early 1984. In early 2012, it was reported that Franklin was set to walk down the aisle a third time with her longtime companion Willie Wilkerson. Franklin and Wilkerson had plans to marry in 1987 but later nixed those plans. Within a month after Aretha had announced the wedding this year, she nixed the plans again.
Franklin's sisters Erma Franklin and Carolyn Franklin were professional singers and sang as backup for Aretha during her initial success at Atlantic. Her brother, the Reverend Cecil Franklin, took over as her manager after her divorce from Ted White was finalized. Cecil remained her manager until his death from cancer on December 26, 1989. Younger sister Carolyn preceded Cecil in death in early 1988 from breast cancer while Erma Franklin later died from throat cancer in 2002. Franklin's eldest half-brother, Vaughn (born December 24, 1934) and elder half-sister Carl Kelley (née Jennings; born 1940) are still alive. Kelley is C.L. Franklin's daughter by Mildred Jennings, a then 12-year-old congregant of New Salem Baptist Church of Memphis, Tennessee, where C.L. was pastor in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Franklin was close to her minister father, C. L. Franklin. C. L. served as Franklin's first manager, a position he gave up to Ted White around 1967. Aretha was performing in Las Vegas on June 10, 1979 when her father was shot by attempted robbers at his LaSalle Street home in Detroit. Aretha and her family returned their father back to his home six months after the shooting left him in a coma. Aretha moved back to Detroit at the end of 1982 to assist with the care of her father, who died in a nursing home on July 27, 1984.
Aretha's relationship with road manager Ken Cunningham was on and off from 1969 until a final breakup in 1976. During one breakup in 1971, Franklin, living back in northwest Detroit, had a brief liaison with Temptations star Dennis Edwards. The relationship inspired Franklin's hit, "Day Dreaming". Franklin and Edwards' romance cooled quickly but they've remained friends. Aretha is also friendly with many of her Detroit peers that went on to be music superstars including Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. She was friendly with members of the Four Tops as well, later singing with them on several records in the 1980s. Franklin also had a close friendship with Sam Cooke after meeting as gospel performers. Following Cooke's death, Franklin recorded his songs "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "You Send Me".
Franklin grew close with Sweet Inspirations founder Cissy Houston, who sang background on Franklin's "Ain't No Way". Due to this friendship, she was later made honorary aunt of Cissy's daughter, Whitney Houston, who often referred to Franklin as "Auntie Ree". Franklin recalled meeting Whitney at either 8 or 9 years old when Whitney's mother brought her to a recording studio. Sometime in the 1980s, a PR mistake listed Franklin as Houston's godmother. On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston died in Beverly Hills from unknown causes. Aretha was devastated by her death and said it was "so stunning and unbelievable". She planned to perform at the memorial service on February 18, but her representative claimed that Aretha was "ill" and was "not performing at the memorial service", though she later performed at New York's Radio City Music Hall on the same night.
Franklin acknowledged her issues with her weight in the past even telling an interviewer from Jet magazine that she was always trying to lose weight. Before undergoing surgery for an undisclosed ailment that halted her schedule in 2010, Franklin had begun losing weight. According to the singer in 2011, she said she had lost up to 85 lbs in weight following her surgery. In the past, Franklin had gone through periods of yo-yo dieting, at one time, losing over 100 pounds showing off her weight loss on the cover of Ebony magazine in 1974. Franklin managed to keep the weight off until after 1982. After another slim period in the early '90s, and after quitting cigarettes cold turkey in 1991, Franklin's weight started to balloon up. In 2010, Franklin suffered a pain in her side which she said, "was so hard it almost brought me to my knees." After continuing a concert tour, the pain recurred, and she subsequently underwent surgery for an undisclosed ailment in October 2010, ending several engagements with Condoleeza Rice. At this time, rumors surfaced that she was suffering from pancreatic cancer. In discussing the events in 2011, she has said that this was not the case and that her doctor told her, "the surgery that you just had is going to add 15 to 20 more years to your life."
Franklin’s music and civil rights involvement cannot be separated for it was through music, which Franklin was able to reach out to so many and empower those who had felt so long oppressed.
Aretha Franklin first became connected with the civil rights movement through her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin. Rev. Franklin was an influential preacher who traveled the country as well as recorded a weekly sermon for the radio station, WLAC, which reached 65 percent of the African-American population. It was these same tours that Aretha would begin her singing career. Rev. Franklin would also introduce Aretha to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. starting a life long friendship between the two.
It was Franklin's soulful sound, which would become the driving anthem of the civil rights movement or as poet Nikki Giovanni put it “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of the black America”.
Through Franklin’s album ‘I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You’, hit ‘Respect’ rose to the top. Her strong voice asking for something as simple as respect reflects the cries of the civil rights movement. Her lyrics mirror that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. Most notably the lines “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children”. While the civil rights movement was already in motion before Franklin became a prominent figure she had now lent it a soundtrack.
Franklin did not have to do much to help propel the civil rights movement. “Her own sense of pride and her dignified stance, she represented the new black woman of the late 1960s”. Franklin’s own sound and presence were enough to reflect the ideas of the movement and were what caused her to become a notable figure in the cause.
Franklin was not actively heading demonstrations or participating in sit-ins, but she was able to do her part and use her talent to help the movement. She would numerous times perform at rallies with King, lending her voice and fame to pull in crowds. Franklin is a registered Democrat.
She holds the record for most Best Female R&B Vocal Performance awards, with eleven to her name (including eight consecutive awards from 1968 to 1975 – the first eight awarded in that category).
|Aretha Franklin's 18 Grammy Award Wins|
|1||1968||Best Rhythm & Blues Recording||R&B||Respect|
|2||1968||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Respect|
|3||1969||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Chain Of Fools|
|4||1970||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Share Your Love With Me|
|5||1971||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Don't Play That Song For Me|
|6||1972||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Bridge Over Troubled Water|
|7||1973||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Young, Gifted and Black (album)|
|8||1973||Best Soul Gospel Performance||Gospel||Amazing Grace (album)|
|9||1974||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Master Of Eyes|
|10||1975||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing|
|11||1982||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Hold On...I'm Comin' (album track)|
|12||1986||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Freeway Of Love|
|13||1988||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Aretha (album)|
|14||1988||Best R&B Performance – Duo Or Group with Vocals||R&B||I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (with George Michael)|
|15||1989||Best Soul Gospel Performance – Female||Gospel||One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (album)|
|*||1991||Living Legend Award||Special|
|*||1994||Lifetime Achievement Award||Special|
|16||2004||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Wonderful|
|17||2006||Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||A House Is Not A Home|
|18||2008||Best Gospel-Soul Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||Gospel||Never Gonna Break My Faith (with Mary J. Blige)|
|1967||"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"||9|
|1967||"Baby I Love You"||4|
|1967||"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"||8|
|1967||"Chain of Fools"||2|
|1968||"(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone"||5|
|1968||"The House That Jack Built"||6|
|1968||"I Say a Little Prayer"||10|
|1971||"Bridge Over Troubled Water" / "Brand New Me"||6|
|1973||"Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)"||3|
|1985||"Freeway of Love"||3|
|1985||"Who's Zoomin' Who"||7|
|1987||"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (with George Michael)||1|
|1967||"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"|
|1967||"Baby I Love You"|
|1967||"Chain of Fools"|
|1968||"(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone"|
|1969||"Share Your Love with Me"|
|1970||"Don't Play That Song (You Lied)"|
|1971||"Bridge Over Troubled Water" / "Brand New Me"|
|1973||"Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)"|
|1974||"I'm in Love"|
|1976||"Something He Can Feel"|
|1977||"Break It to Me Gently"|
|1982||"Jump to It"|
|1983||"Get It Right"|
|1985||"Freeway of Love"|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Aretha Franklin|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Aretha Franklin|
|Book: Aretha Franklin|
|Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print.|
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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
Boggle gives you 3 minutes to find as many words (3 letters or more) as you can in a grid of 16 letters. You can also try the grid of 16 letters. Letters must be adjacent and longer words score better. See if you can get into the grid Hall of Fame !
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