Aretha Franklin: the 100 most inspiring musicians of all time
American singer Aretha Franklin (b. Aretha Louise Franklin March 25, 1942, Memphis, Tenn., U.S.) defined the golden age of soul music of the 1960s.
Aretha Franklin’s mother, Barbara, was a gospel singer and pianist. Her father, C.L. Franklin, presided over the New Bethel Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan, and was a minister of national influence. A singer himself, he was noted for his brilliant sermons, many of which were
recorded by Chess Records.
Arethe Franklin’s parents separated when she was six, and she remained with her father in Detroit. Her mother died when Aretha was just 10. As a young teen, Franklin performed with her father on his gospel programs in major cities throughout the country and was recognized as a vocal prodigy.
Her central influence, Clara Ward of the renowned Ward Singers, was a family friend. Other gospel greats of the day—Albertina Walker and Jackie Verdell—helped shape young Franklin’s style. Her album The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin (1956) captures the electricity of her
performances as a 14-year-old.
At age 18, with her father’s blessing, Franklin switched from sacred to secular music. She moved to New York City, where Columbia Records executive John Hammond, who had signed Count Basie and Billie Holiday, arranged her recording contract and supervised sessions highlighting
her in a blues-jazz vein. From that first session, “Today I Sing the Blues” (1960) remains a classic. But, as her Detroit friends on the Motown label enjoyed hit after hit, Franklin struggled to achieve crossover success. Columbia placed her with a variety of producers who marketed her
to both adults (“If Ever You Should Leave Me,” 1963) and teens (“Soulville,” 1964).
Without targeting any particular genre, she sang everything from Broadway ballads to youth-oriented rhythm and blues. Critics recognized her talent, but the public remained lukewarm until 1966, when she switched to Atlantic Records, where producer Jerry Wexler allowed her to sculpt her own musical identity.
At Atlantic, Franklin returned to her gospel-blues roots, and the results were sensational. “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)” (1967), recorded at Fame Studios in Florence, Alabama, was her first million-seller. Surrounded by sympathetic musicians playing spontaneous arrangements
and devising the background vocals herself, Franklin refined a style associated with Ray Charles—a rousing mixture of gospel and rhythm and blues—and raised it to new heights.
As a civil rights–minded nation lent greater support to black urban music, Franklin was crowned the “Queen of Soul.” “Respect,” her 1967 cover of Otis Redding’s spirited composition, became an anthem operating on personal, sexual, and racial levels. “Think” (1968), which Franklin wrote herself, also had more than one meaning.
For the next half-dozen years, she became a hit maker of unprecedented proportions; she was “Lady Soul.” In the early 1970s she triumphed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco before an audience of flower children and
on whirlwind tours of Europe and Latin America. Her return to church, Amazing Grace (1972), is considered one of the great gospel albums of any era. By the late 1970s disco cramped Franklin’s style and eroded her popularity.
But in 1982, with help from singer-songwriter-producer Luther Vandross, she was back on top with a new label, Arista, and a new dance hit, “Jump to It,” followed by “Freeway of Love” (1985). A reluctant interviewee, Franklin kept her private life private, claiming that the popular perception associating her with the unhappiness of singers Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday was misinformed.
In 1987, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While her album sales in the 1990s and 2000s failed to approach the numbers of previous decades, Franklin remained the Queen of Soul, and in 2009 she electrified a crowd of more than one million with her performance of “My Country ’Tis of Thee” at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
Browse in the Library:
and subscribe to our social channels for news and music updates:
Aretha Franklin – Greatest Hits (Official Full Album) | Aretha Franklin Best Songs
1. Respect 0:00:00 2. I Say a Little Prayer 0:02:24 3. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman 0:06:00 4. Think 0:08:45 5. Chain of Fools 0:11:03 6. Ain’t No Way 0:13:49 7. Rock Steady 0:18:02 8. Bridge Over Troubled Water 0:21:17 9. Day Dreaming 0:26:49 10. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) 0:31:51
11. You Send Me 0:33:36 12. Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) 0:36:02 13. Son of a Preacher Man 0:39:29 14. You’re All I Need to Get By 0:42:49 15. Baby I Love You 0:46:25 16. Do Right Woman – Do Right Man 0:49:08 17. Something He Can Feel 0:52:24 18. The Weight 0:58:43 19. Don’t Play That Song 1:01:46 20. A Change Is Gonna Come 1:04:46