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 1993, she was invited to sing at the inauguration of Bill Clinton, and in 1994, Franklin was given a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys. Over the next few years, she became the subject of multiple documentaries and tributes.
In 1998, Franklin reprised her former role in Blues Brothers 2000, released the gold-selling "A Rose Is Still A Rose," and stood in for Luciano Pavarotti,
who was too ill to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award. Her rendition of "Nessun Dorma" commanded stellar reviews.
In 2003, Franklin released her final studio album on Arista, So Damn Happy, and left the label to found Aretha Records. Two years later, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and became the second woman ever to be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. In 2008, she received her 18th Grammy Award for " Never Gonna Break My Faith"—a collaboration with Mary J. Blige—and was tapped to sing at the 2009 inauguration of president Barack Obama. With her 18th Grammy, she has won the second most Grammys of any female artist, following Alison Krauss. Most recently, Franklin's released her first album on her own label, A Woman Falling Out of Love, in 2011.
To support her album, Franklin gave several concerts, including a two-night stint at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York. Both fans and critics were impressed with her performances, in which she showed that the Queen of Soul still reigns supreme.
In her personal life, however, Franklin seemed to be going through some challenging times. She announced that she was getting married to her "forever friend" William "Willie" Wilkerson in January 2012 and they planned to tie the knot in that summer. Only a short time later, Franklin told the press that the wedding off. The couple had "decided we were moving a little too fast, and there were a number of things that had not been thought through thoroughly."
More than a week after breaking off her engagement, Franklin suffered another great personal loss. The death of her goddaughter, Whitney Houston, on February 11, 2012, deeply saddened her. "It's so stunning and unbelievable," Franklin wrote on her Facebook page. "My heart goes out to Cissy, her daughter Bobbi Kris, her family and Bobby."
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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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