Black History Month: Aretha Franklin
She was born Aretha Louise Franklin, on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, TN. During her life, the woman who could be dubbed. “The Queen of Soul.” was nominated for an astonishing 44 Grammy Awards, winning 18. The incredible singer won 8 consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance from 1968 to 1975.
During Franklin’s career, 112 of her singles made the charts in the United States. Billboard graphics. Of these singles, 73 made the top 100, with 17 of them in the top 10. She had 100 R&B entries, 20 of which also topped the charts during her career.
Honored all her life
For her Franklin contributions to the arts, the Queen of Soul was honored with a National Medal of Arts and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has the honor of being the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the UK Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. rolling stone The magazine ranked Franklin No. 1 on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” She posthumously received a Pulitzer Prize Special Jury Citation in 2019. In 2020, Franklin was posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Franklin was born to Barbara (née Siggers) and Clarence LeVaughn “CL” Franklin at the family home at 406 Lucy Avenue in Memphis. The basis of Franklin’s style and influence was rooted in the church. Franklin’s father was a very popular Baptist minister and circuit preacher. His mother was a pianist and singer.
Franklin’s parents would divorce when she was 6 years old. His father had moved the family to Detroit, where Franklin remained while his mother and half-brother moved to Buffalo, NY. Franklin said she would see her mother during the summer and that her mother would also come to visit her in Detroit. On March 7, 1952, Franklin’s mother died suddenly of a heart attack. Franklin was 9 at the time.
It was after her mother’s death that other family members stepped in to help raise her in Detroit. Her grandmother helped her and her family, as did the famous singer Mahalia Jackson. Franklin took up music and learned to play the piano by ear, while also learning to sing gospel music.
Along with the greats
There was no shortage of celebrities visiting the Franklin home. This was due to her father’s celebrity status as a preacher. CL Franklin has earned thousands of dollars for the sermons he has delivered in churches across the country. He was nicknamed “the man with the million dollar voice”. Celebrities who visited the Franklin House included: Gospel musicians Clara Ward, James Cleveland, Albertina Walker and Inez Andrews. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the house several times. Other visitors included Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
In an interview later in life, Franklin spoke of growing up with the greats: “I remember singing around the house on records that were playing. All kinds of music. And the great James Cleveland was often in our house, and I grew up with his sound too.”
Franklin’s musical gifts were evident early in his life. When she was 12, her father started managing her. He would take young Franklin with him on his traveling sermons so she could perform in churches. His first recording contract with JVB Records resulted in the release of his first singles, “Never Grow Old” and “You Grow Closer”, at the age of 16. Franklin’s early success was one of the reasons she dropped out of high school in her sophomore year.
Signed with Columbia Records
When Franklin turned 18 in 1960, she signed with Columbia Records. Franklin and her father moved to New York so she could pursue a career in pop music. CL Franklin continued to be his manager.
In September 1960, Franklin’s first Columbia single, “Today I Sing the Blues”, reached the top 10 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Sellers chart. The release of these singles will be followed by the release of his debut album, Aretha: With the Ray Bryant combo. His song, “Won’t Be Long”, has found its way into the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 7 on the R&B chart. It was a great start in the world of music for the gifted 19-year-old.
1961 also saw the release of Franklin’s first hit single, “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”. Later the same year, she was named a “new star singer” by Downbeat magazine.
queen of soul
It’s like during a performance at Chicago’s Regal Theater in the 1960s, when WVON radio personality Pervis Spann said Franklin should be crowned “the queen of soul.” Spann then placed a ceremonial wreath on Franklin’s head.
Franklin ventured into pop music in 1964 and it was quick to go on to let the world know she had ascended the throne as Queen of Soul. In 1965, Franklin reached the top 10 of the R&B charts with “Runnin’ Out of Fools”. His songs remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, R&B, and Rhythm and Soul charts for the next two decades.
His career would explode in the 60s, 70s and 80s. His success and collection of accolades continued throughout the next 5 decades. Franklin was nominated for the Grammy Awards in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1909, 1989, 1989, 1989, 1989, 1989 , 1995, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011. Franklin has also been nominated for 11 American Music Awards, winning 6.
A chain of success
Franklin’s greatest hits included; “Chain of Fools”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Respect”, “Freeway of Love”, “Baby I Love You”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Dr. Feelgood (love is serious business.) She also covered the Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby,” and Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.”
When it came to referencing a song considered one of his all-time greatest hits, “Respect,” Franklin commented, “We all need and want respect, male or female, black or white. It’s our basic human right.”
In an interview about her life, Franklin talked about finding the right man, “The man who takes me becomes one hell of a woman.”
Illness and death
On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be critically ill and in hospice care. She died 3 days later, on August 16, at the age of 76. Franlink surrounded by her friends and family. She was visited on her deathbed by Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson and her ex-husband Glynn Turman. The cause of death was a malignant neuroendocrine tumor.
Franklin had continued to play until the end of his life. In an interview with AARP magazine, she reportedly said, “Always semi-retired, never retired…who just wants to sit somewhere? I’m a people person…and I love to play. It’s like that and like it happens to be.”
Tributes poured in from around the world. Thousands of people pay their respects in public rest at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. His return service was on August 31 at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. News agencies such as Fox News, CNN, The Word Network, BET and MSNBC carried the service. Those who attended the service included former President Bill Clinton, Faith Hill, Ronald Isley, Queen Latifah, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Tyler Perry, as well as dozens of other celebrities from all walks of entertainment.
Franklin requested Reverend Jasper Williams Jr of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta. Williams had eulogized Franklin’s father in 1984. The great singer was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.
Ultimately, Franklin is remembered, not just for his music, but for supporting everyone. She was known for her support for civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and support for the elderly. She was also known for her faith in her religion and her support for not judging people: “You can’t define a person on one thing. You can’t just forget about all those wonderful and good things a person has. do because one thing didn’t work.” It’s not going the way you thought it should be.”
Franklin’s wealth was estimated at around $80 million when she died. It’s a wealth she began accumulating at age 12 and continued to build for the next 74 years.
February is Black History Month, a time dedicated to recognizing the contributions of African Americans throughout history.
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