Born: 25 March 1942
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee
Best known as: The Queen of Soul who sang "Respect"
Aretha Franklin is called "The Queen of Soul" and "Lady Soul," nicknames that are a tribute to her regal style and impassioned gospel-tinged vocals. The daughter of Rev. C. L. Franklin, a Detroit gospel singer and clergyman, Aretha began performing on the Midwest gospel music circuit as a youngster and made her first recording when she was 14 years old. Her pop music recording career began when she signed a record deal in 1961 with CBS/Columbia, but her career really took off when she signed with Atlantic Records in 1967. By the end of the 1960s Franklin was at her peak as an artist -- with hits including Otis Redding's "Respect", as well as "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" -- and had become an African-American icon during the era's turbulent battles over civil rights for minorities and women. She sang "God Bless America" at the 1977 inauguration of President Jimmy Carter and continued to perform and record both soul and gospel music into the 21st century. Though her last mainstream hit record was 1985's Freeway Of Love, Franklin's place in music history is secure: she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
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