It took Aretha Franklin, a music industry giant, to blaze the trail and become the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 30 years ago today on January 3, 1987.
Born in 1942 in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Franklin grew up singing in her father Reverend C.L. Franklin’s church, surrounded by gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke and Clara Ward, as well as civil rights icons including Martin Luther King Jr. Considered a musical prodigy, Franklin used her gospel roots as a foundation, blending pop and blues influences into her performance. With her powerful voice and unparalleled musicianship, she innovated her own sound, turning out timeless classics such as "Think," "Chain of Fools,'' "I Say a Little Prayer," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” and “Respect,” a number one hit that would be become an anthem of empowerment.
Beyond her historic Rock Hall induction, Franklin has earned 18 Grammys, landed 43 singles on the Top 40 charts, sang at the inauguration of two U.S. presidents (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor and will always be hailed as the Queen of Soul.
“Music is my way of communicating that part of me I can get out front and share,” Franklin told Essence magazine in 1973. “It’s what I have to give; my way of saying, ‘Let’s find one another.’”