Aretha Franklin is an American singer, songwriter and pianist commonly referred to as “The Queen of Soul”. Although renowned for her soul recordings, Franklin is also adept at jazz, rock, blues, pop, R&B and gospel. She is widely acclaimed for her passionate vocal style and powerful range. In 2008, the American music magazine Rolling Stone ranked Franklin 1 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Aretha Franklin was born March 25, 1942 in Memphis. Franklin grew up in Detroit, where her father, Rev.
C. L. Franklin, served as pastor at the New Bethel Baptist Church. one of the most nfluential and important voices in the history of popular music. Aretha began singing church music at an early age. Her mother Barbara was also a gospel singer and deserted the family when Aretha was six and died four years later. Aretha and her sisters Carolyn and Erma sang regularly at their father’s church and Aretha’s first recordings( The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin) were made there when she was 14.
The person that influence was her aunt, Clara Ward, a renowned singer of sacred music. Many future stars including Smokey Robinson knew the family and in the ’50s Berry Gordy Jr. tried to signAretha to his Motown label but Reverend Franklin refused. Aretha ended up being signed with Columbia Records in 1960 after A;R man John Hammond heard a demo she cut in New York. She remained at Columbia for six years, cutting ten albums that failed to fully tap into her capabilities. Jerry Wexler was waiting in the wings to sign Franklin when her contract with Columbia expired. In 1966 she signed with Atlantic.
With the help of producer Jerry Wexler, arranger Arif Mardin and engineer Tom Dowd, Franklin began to make the records that would reshape soul music. Her most productive period ran from 967 through 1972. The revelations began with her first Atlantic single, “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Loved You). ” Working closely with producer Jerry Wexler, engineer Tom Dowd and arranger Arif Mardin, Franklin followed her triumphant first album with recordings that furthered her claim to the title “Queen of Soul. ” Her next three albums – Aretha Arrives (1967), Lady Soul (1968) and Aretha Now (1968) – included “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “Baby, I Love You,” “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby),” and a soulful rendering of Carole King’s “A Natural Woman. ” Her lengthy tenure withAtlantic came to an end in 1979 after twelve years and nineteen albums. In the Eighties she recorded everything from gospel to dance music for Arista Records, finding the upper reaches of the charts with “Freeway of Love” and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who.
” In 1987 Franklin had the second Number One hit of her career, “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me),” a duet with George Michael, which came exactly twenty years after she topped the chart with “Respect. ” Aretha teamed up with Rolling Stone Keith Richard in 1986 for a version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” that appeared in the Whoopi Goldberg movie of the same name.In 1980, Franklin’s career was given a much-needed boost by a cameo performance as Mrs. Matt Murphy in The Blues Brothers, singing Think. That same year, Clive Davis signed Aretha to his Arista Records. The singles “United Together” and “Love All The Hurt Away”, a duet with George Benson returned her to the Top 10 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. But it was the spectacular 1982 album, Jump To It, produced by longtime admirer Luther Vandross, and the title-track single that gave Aretha her first R&B chart-topping and pop success.
The album enjoyed a long run at 1 on Billboard’s R;B Albums chart (even the Zoomin’ album only reached 3).It won an American Music Award, was nominated for a Grammy and was certified gold in early 1983 Aretha’s first gold disc since the 1976 Sparkle album. Aretha returned to gospel in 1987 with her album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism which was recorded live at her New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. Aretha Franklin had an interesting personal life. Twice divorced, Franklin is the mother of four grown sons. Two of them, Teddy Jr. and Kecalf, are active in the music business.
Teddy is the musical director and guitarist of Franklin’s touring band. From 1961 to 1969, Aretha was married to her manager and co-writer Ted White.In 1978 she married Cooley High actor Glynn Turman. She also had seven year relationship with Ken Cunningham (1969-1976), the father of her youngest son. While White had been a decade older than Aretha, Cunningham and Turman were both several years younger than Aretha. In late 1982 Franklin returned to Detroit for the purpose of spending the holidays with her bed-ridden father. Several months later, her ‘fear of flying’ phobia occurred.
She was subsequently thwarted from returning to Glynn in California and as a result she and Turman divorced in early 1984. Franklin’s weight has steadily increased over the years.She has attributed this to elinquishing her 25 year tobacco habit as well as to recurring depression. Aretha claims that her weight has fluctuated between 230 and 512 pounds in the last decade. Inspired by Star Jones, Franklin is planning to undergo gastric bypass surgery, but needs to lose a reported 100 pounds before this can be done. She is the godmother of Whitney Houston, who also grew up to be a major R;B and Pop music star, rising to fame in the mid- 1980s, and subsequently struggling with a wide variety of illegal narcotic addictions thereafter. A still image of Franklin was shown in the closing scene of Houston’s 1985 video for the single How Will I Know.
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