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iOldies Music Store Home > Artist Biographies > Aretha Franklin Biography

Aretha Franklin Biography

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Artist Biographies: Aretha Franklin Biography

 

Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942. She is an iconic musician whose career lasted for better than half a century. She is known for her musical talents as a pianist along with the ability to write songs and sing them with authority. Aretha Franklin is best known for her style, which blended together funk, gospel, rock, blues, pop and R&B. Known as the Queen of Soul, a title earned early in her career, Franklin was one of the most influential people in popularizing the soul music genre in her era. Aretha Franklin was born to a Baptist minister who was well known in his community, L. Franklin. After obtaining her father’s blessing to sing at the age of ten, she started to sing in his church. Aretha Franklin started recording music four years later. When she was eighteen, she formed a pop group that started singing more secular style music. It was at this time that Aretha Franklin signed with Columbia Records. The stint with Columbia was not as promising as the label had hoped even after indicating that she was the most important act since Billie Holiday. The CEO John Hammond eventually decided to let Aretha Franklin out of her contract, and she immediately made the switch to Atlantic Records. While signed with Atlantic, Franklin recorded such hits as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Think", "Chain of Fools" and "Respect". "Respect" later became the signature for Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin’s career experienced a brief lull in 1969. Afterwards, she started recording more singles in the early 1970s with the culmination of her career coming with the album release of the 1970 Spirit in the Dark, Young from 1971, Gifted & Black also in 1971 and Amazing Grace from 1972. Amazing Grace was a gospel record, which became the best-selling gospel record for over 25-years. Franklin’s singles while she was with Atlantic included "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)", "I'm in Love" and "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" and the 1976 soundtrack to the movie, Sparkle. Franklin switched her style in 1980 to a more contemporary urban sound when she switched to Arista Records with Clive Davis. Her new style was highlighted in albums like Aretha and Love All the Hurt Away. In 1982, Franklin enjoyed greater success with Jump To It. The album as produced by hit maker Luther Vandross. Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, recorded in 1985 included a modern pop rock sound including dance elements which became a part of Franklin’s singing style in 1984. Hits like "Freeway of Love", "Who's Zoomin' Who" and the Eurythmics featured "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" all came from this album. "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" was the last major hit for Franklin which was a part of the Aretha album recorded in 1986. It included George Michael doing a duet with her in the song. In 1998, Franklin returned from another lull to record the contemporary R&B album A Rose Is Still a Rose. This album brought Franklin back to the top 40.

Many awards have been bestowed upon Franklin. This includes the appearance of Rolling Stone magazine’s ranking close to the top of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. She has also been listed with the magazine as the ninth greatest artist of all time. She has also won two honorary Grammys along with the 18 regular Grammys. She was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the first woman inductee. In August 2012, she is expected to be inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

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