Aretha Franklin – The Undisputed Queen of Soul

To the world, she was the undisputed queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin was the first female member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the winner of 18 Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement nod, and was anointed the No. 1 top singer by Rolling Stone in its list of “100 Best Singers of All Time” in 2008.

Aretha Franklin - The Undisputed Queen of Soul

There is no doubt that Aretha Franklin was more than great talent, more than an eternal spirit and more than a light to everyone who listened to her music or interacted with her, she was the undisputed queen of soul.

Aretha Franklin - The Undisputed Queen of Soul
Image Courtesy of The Detroit News

The American singer, songwriter and pianist passed away on the 16th of August 2018 after bravely battling pancreatic cancer. On August 13, 2018, Aretha was reported to be gravely ill at her home in River Front Towers, Detroit. She was under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family.

Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson and ex-husband Glynn Turman visited her on her deathbed. Numerous celebrities in the entertainment industry and politicians paid tribute to Aretha, including former U.S. president Barack Obama who said she “helped define the American experience” and civil rights activist and minister, Al Sharpton called her a “civil rights and humanitarian icon”.

An early music journey

She began her career as a child singing gospel at a local church where her father was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia records but achieving only modest success.

Aretha Franklin - The Undisputed Queen of Soul
Aretha performing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration

After signing to Atlantic Records in 1966, Aretha Franklin achieved commercial success and acclaim with songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of fools”, “Think”, ‘Natural woman”, ‘I never loved a man” and “I say a little prayer”.

By the end of the 1960s she was rightly dubbed as “The Queen of Soul“. Franklin recorded acclaimed albums such as ‘I never loved a man the way I love you’ (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Spirit in the dark (1970), Young, Gifted and Black (1972), Amazing Grace (1972) and Sparkle (1976) before experiencing problems with her record company.

After her father was tragically shot in 1979, she left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with the albums ‘Jump to It‘ (1982) and ‘Who’s zoomin’ who?’ (1985), and her part in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. In 1998, Aretha received international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessum Droma” at the Grammy awards that year, replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that year, she scored her final Top 40 song with “A rose is still a rose”.

Franklin recorded 112 charted singles in billboard including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B Entries and 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. Franklin’s other well-known hits include “Rock steady”, “Call me”, “Don’t play that song”,  “Bridge over troubled water”, “Day Dreaming”, “Until you come back to me”, “Something he can feel”, “Jump to it”, “Freeway of love”, “Who is zoomin’ who” and “I knew you were waiting” (with George Michael).

She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for best female R&B Performance from 1968 through to 1975, and is one of the best selling musical act of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

Aretha Franklin - The Undisputed Queen of Soul
Image Courtesy of The Detroit News

Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, becoming the first female performer to be inducted, National Medal of arts and the presidential medal of freedom. She was inducted to the Uk music hall of fame in 2005. In 2012, she was also inducted into the GMA Gospel music hall of fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists by Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest artists of all time, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 greatest singer of all time.

She has been cited as an influential figure in music and has been able to inspire some of the biggest vocalists in the game like Mariah carey, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Ariana grande, Alicia Keys, Yolanda Adams and Jennifer Hudson plus many others.

The music world will never be the same without her. May her soul rest in eternal peace.



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