Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, civil rights activist, actress, and pianist.Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan where her father C. L. Franklin was minister. At age 18, she embarked on a secular career recording for Columbia Records. However, she achieved only modest success. Franklin found commercial success and acclaim after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “Respect“, “Chain of Fools“, “Think“, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman“, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)“, and “I Say a Little Prayer“, propelled Franklin past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as “The Queen of Soul“.
The reigning and undisputed “Queen Of Soul” has created an amazing legacy that spans an incredible six decades, from her first recording as a teenage gospel star, to her most recent RCA Records release, ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS.
The recipient of the U.S.A.’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal Of Freedom, an eighteen (and counting) GRAMMY Award winner – the most recent of which was for Best Gospel Performance for “Never Gonna Break My Faith” with Mary J. Blige in 2008 – a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement and GRAMMY Living Legend awardee, Aretha Franklin’s powerful, distinctive gospel-honed vocal style has influenced countless singers across multi-generations, justifiably earning her Rolling Stone magazine’s No. 1 placing on the list of “The Greatest Singers Of All Time.”
Marking a glorious reunion with music industry legend Clive Davis (Chief Creative Officer for Sony Music Entertainment) – with whom she worked for the longest period of her recording career, twenty-three years at Arista Records (1980-2003) – Aretha continues her time-honored tradition of creating new music that is innovative, vital and fresh. With the 2014 release of ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS, Aretha put her indelible stamp on ten songs previously recorded by other female artists – and in her own inimitable way (as she has time and time again), she makes each one her own.
Working with hitmaking producers Clive Davis, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, André “3000” Benjamin, Eric Kupper, Harvey Mason Jr. and Chicago DJ/producer Terry Hunter, co-producing and doing all the vocal arrangements for the project, Aretha put her personal and ever-soulful stamp on both contemporary hits and time-honored pop, soul and jazz standards, reimagining certain cuts with the inclusion of cleverly-created musical blends such as “I Will Survive” which includes an interlude from Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and “I’m Every Woman,” featuring her 2014 take on her own timeless anthem, “Respect.” An all-star musical cast on ARETHA FRANKLIN SINGS THE GREAT DIVA CLASSICS includes special guest sax great Kirk Whalum, longtime friend and musical associate Cissy Houston alongside background vocalists Fonzi Thornton, Tawatha Agee, Vaneese Thomas and Brenda White-King who regularly accompany Aretha in live performances.
Aretha Franklin, universally acclaimed as the “Queen of Soul” and one of America’s greatest singers in any style, died on Thursday at her home in Detroit. She was 76.
The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, said.
In her indelible late-1960s hits, Ms. Franklin brought the righteous fervor of gospel music to secular songs that were about much more than romance. Hits like “Do Right Woman — Do Right Man,” “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools” defined a modern female archetype: sensual and strong, long-suffering but ultimately indomitable, loving but not to be taken for granted