Although born in soul’s capital city, Memphis. The Franklin family soon moved to Detroit, MI, where her father, Baptist minister Reverend C. L. Franklin, soon became one of the most revered public figures in black America. His passionate speeches led to associations with gospel legends like Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, and Aretha recorded her first Gospel LP at the tender age of 14. The young Aretha sang in church at an early age and learned how to play piano by ear. By her late teens, Franklin was regularly singing solo numbers in her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church.
Soon to follow were the awards and accolades of merit for her talent, although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin is also adept at jazz, blues, R&B, Rock and of course Gospel Music. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time as well as the ninth greatest artist of all time. She has won 18 competitive GRAMMY®s and two honorary GRAMMY®s. She has 20 #1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and two #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “Respect” (1967) and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (1987), Since 1961, she has scored a total of 45 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. She also has the most million-selling singles of any female artist. Between 1967 and 1982 she had 10 #1 R&B albums—more than any other female artist. In 1987, Aretha became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was the only featured singer at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.
However, she had garnered fame for being a multi-talented vocalist and musician. It was during a show in 1965, the master of ceremonies gave Franklin a tiara crown declaring her “the queen of soul”. The title would prove to be prophetic.
In 1972, she released her first gospel album in nearly two decades with Amazing Grace. The album eventually became her biggest-selling release ever, selling over two million copies and becoming the best-selling gospel album of all time. In 1987 she again returned to her gospel roots with the album, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, which though it did not repeat the success of Amazing Grace despite a powerful rendition of “Oh Happy Day”, featuring Mavis Staples, but did reach the Top 10 of Billboard’s gospel chart.
Aretha most certainly brought her Gospel roots into secular R&B, thus helping create her own style which is known as “Soul Music”, she is also one of the finest songwriters of all time as well as one of finest pianists in Gospel today.
Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward
18 competitive and 2 honorary
Aretha Franklin singing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” in memory of her father
Aretha Franklin singing “I Say A Little Prayer For You”