Franklin, Aretha

Franklin, Aretha, 1942–2018, American singer and pianist, b. Memphis. The daughter of the well-known minister C. L. Franklin, she began singing in the choir of his Detroit Baptist church, where she soon became a soloist. A singer of unique power, the Queen of Soul turned from gospel to secular music in the late 1950s. Signed by John Hammond of Columbia Records in 1960, she moved to Atlantic Records in 1967, where she recorded many of her most famous hits. Franklin was a master of many genres, from gospel to jazz, rhythm and blues to pop, with a four-octave range and enormous emotional strength, and many regarded her as the greatest female vocalist of the 20th cent. She is particularly known for such hits as Respect (her signature song, it became an anthem for both the civil-rights and women's movements), (You Make Me Feel like) A Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, Freeway of Love, and Who's Zoomin' Who? She was (1987) the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received 18 Grammy awards as well as a lifetime achievement award (1994). Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, she sang at President Obama's inauguration in 2009.

See her autobiography (with D. Ritz, 1999); biography by D. Ritz (2014); A. Pollack, dir., Amazing Grace (documentary, 2018).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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