Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer and songwriter. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but achieving only modest success. After signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Think”. By the end of the 1960s she was being called “the Queen of Soul”.
Franklin recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Young, Gifted and Black (1972) and Amazing Grace (1972) before experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s. After her father was shot in 1979, Franklin 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, Franklin received international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessun dorma” 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 on 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”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, “Chain of Fools”, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”, “Something He Can Feel”, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (with George Michael), and a remake of The Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.
Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.