Best Known For
Multiple Grammy winner and "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin is known for such hits as "Respect," "Freeway of Love" and "I Say a Little Prayer."
Aretha Franklin's singing career was in danger of ending before it had really began in 1966 when her contract with Columbia Records wasn't renewed, until she met Atlantic Record producer Jerry Wexler.
Reverend C.L. Franklin, Aretha Franklin's widower father, played a crucial part in getting her involved in the music industry.
After singing soulful music, Aretha Franklin's passion was cooking authentic soul food dishes, whether at home or on the road.
Aretha Franklin had a string of hits, including her claim to fame "Respect", which became an anthem for women and humanity during the Civil Rights Movement.
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In 1967, the album "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" was released. The first song on the album, "Respect," an empowered cover of an Otis Redding track, reached No. 1 on both the R&B and pop charts, and won Aretha her first two Grammy awards. She also had top 10 hits with "Baby I Love You,'' "Think," "Chain of Fools,'' "I Say A Little Prayer," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Franklin was enlisted to perform at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She paid tribute to her father's fallen friend with a heartfelt rendition of "Precious Lord. " She also sang at the 1968 Democratic Convention. The following year, she and White divorced. Franklin performed again at the 1972 funeral of Mahalia Jackson. Spurred by Jackson's passing and a subsequent resurgence of interest in gospel music, Franklin's 1972 album Amazing Grace sold over two million units, becoming the best-selling gospel album at the time.
Franklin's success continued throughout the 70s, and as the artist took home eight consecutive Grammy awards for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance, she earned the title "The Queen of Soul." She worked tirelessly and expanded her repertoire to include rock and pop covers, but by 1975 her sound was fading in favor of the disco craze. In the wake of this new genre, an emerging set of young black singers such as Chaka Khan and Donna Summer began to eclipse Franklin's career. She found a brief respite from slumping sales with 1976's soundtrack to Sparkle, as well as an invitation to perform at the 1977 presidential inauguration. In 1978, she married actor Glynn Turman.
A string of chart failures ended Franklin's relationship with Atlantic in 1979. The same year, her father was hospitalized after a burglary attempt in his home left him in a coma. As her popularity waned and her father's health declined, Franklin was also saddled with a massive bill from the IRS. A cameo in the film The Blues Brothers (1980) helped Franklin revive her flagging career. Performing "Think'' alongside comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd exposed her to a new generation of R&B lovers, and she soon signed to Arista Records. Her new label released 1982's Jump To It, an album that enjoyed huge success on the R&B charts and earned Franklin a Grammy nomination. Two years later, she endured a divorce from Turman as well as the death of her father.
In 1985, Aretha released another smash-hit album. The polished pop record Who's Zoomin' Who? featured the single "Freeway of Love," as well as a collaboration with the popular rock band the Eurythmics. The record became Aretha's biggest-selling album yet. Her follow-up album, 1986's Aretha, also went gold, and the George Michael duet "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)'' hit No. 1 on the pop charts. The next year, Franklin's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame marked the first time a woman had ever been awarded such an honor. The same year, the University of Detroit credited her with an honorary doctorate.
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Many African-Americans made their name performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, including Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. The roster of talented artists who made their careers after a successful amateur night at the Apollo grew so large, that the venue earned a reputation as the place to jump-start the career of an ambitious hopeful. Other performers, like Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, came to the theater after experiencing big professional success, adding further credibility to the historic New York concert hall. Explore the biographies of some of the more notable African-Americans who stepped out onto the Apollo stage, making entertainment history.
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American society experienced a revolution in the late 1960s and early 70s, especially for African-Americans and women. Janis Joplin was the finest white blues singer of her generation; female singer-songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell shared their innermost thoughts and feelings; Aretha Franklin emerged as the Queen of Soul; and Bonnie Raitt established herself as both a strong vocalist and a brilliant guitarist. Through their music, the women of this era created the soundtrack of social progress.
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