Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942 — Aug. 16, 2018) was an American soul singer from Memphis.
She was born Aretha Louise Franklin on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, the third child of baptist minister Clarence LaVaughn Franklin (1915–1984) and pianist/singer Barbara Vernice Franklin (née Siggers; 1917–1952). Aretha had two sisters, Erma (1938–2002) and Carolyn (1944–1988), who also became soul singers; and one brother, Cecil (1940–1989), who served as her manager. The parents separated in 1948 after moving the family to Detroit. Barbara died of a heart attack when Aretha was ten.
As a tween, Aretha learned piano by ear and sang gospel at New Bethel. At age 12, she started performing on her father’s gospel caravan tours. Acting as her first manager, he helped her secure a deal with Detroit’s J-V-B Records, which issued her first single, “Never Grow Old” (b/w “You Grow Closer”), in 1956. Her second J-V-B single, the two-part “Precious Lord,” appeared in 1959.
After meeting Sam Cooke, she was eager to move into pop-soul. She moved to New York in 1960, where a two-song demo (produced by C. L. Franklin) got her signed to Columbia Records. Her first secular album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo, appeared in 1961, spawning the hit “Won’t Be Long” (R&B #7).
In 1962, she issued two further albums, The Electrifying Aretha Franklin and The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin, the former yielding the hit “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody.” During a set at Chicago’s Regal Theater, Aretha was crowned “Queen of Soul” by WVON radio personality Pervis Spann.
Between 1964 and 1966, she scored further R&B hits with “Runnin’ Out of Fools,” “One Step Ahead,” “Cry Like a Baby,” “You Made Me Love You,” and “(No, No) I’m Losing You.” She also performed on pop programs like Hollywood A Go-Go and Shindig! In late 1966, her Columbia contract expired and she moved to Atlantic.
- Aretha (1961 • Aretha Franklin With The Ray Bryant Combo)
- The Electrifying Aretha Franklin (1962)
- The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin (1962)
- Laughing on the Outside (1963)
- Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington (1964)
- Runnin’ Out of Fools (1964)
- Yeah!!! (1965)
- Soul Sister (1966)
- I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
- Aretha Arrives (1967)
- Lady Soul (1968)
- Aretha Now (1968)
- Soul ’69 (1969)
- Two Sides of Love (1970)
- This Girl’s in Love With You (1970)
- Spirit in the Dark (1970)
- The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin (1972)
- Young, Gifted and Black (1972)
- Amazing Grace (live, 1972)
- Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) (1973)
- Let Me in Your Life (1974)
- With Everything I Feel in Me (1974)
- You (1975)
- Sparkle (OST, 1976)
- Sweet Passion (1977)
- Almighty Fire (1978)
- La Diva (1979)
- Aretha (1980)
- Love All the Hurt Away (1981)
- Jump to It (1982)
- Get It Right (1983)
- Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985)
- Aretha (1986)
- Through the Storm (1989)
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