Aretha Franklin

(redirected from Arethra Franklin)

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).

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Franklin, Aretha

(1942–  ) soul singer; born in Memphis, Tenn. Daughter of Detroit clergyman C. L. Franklin, she sang in church choirs as a child and at age 14 joined her father's traveling gospel revue. Although she began recording at age 18, it was at Atlantic Records beginning in 1966 that she worked with experienced rhythm-and-blues musicians and was encouraged to use her gospel roots. In 1967 she gained fame with the release "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You." This and four subsequent number one hits ensured a large following. In the 1980s, recording for Arista, she overcame a creative slump and added 3 Grammies and 2 gold records to the many she has earned during her career. Her passionate virtuoso singing and tight arrangements give her music an eloquent intensity. In 1986 she starred in the retrospective television special, Aretha! and in 1989 she was the subject of a documentary video, Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul. Her highly flamboyant live performances, such as that in the Radio City Music Hall in 1990, never failed to draw full audiences.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.