Aretha Louise Franklin, known throughout the world as the Queen of Soul, has died at her home in Detroit surrounded by friends and family. She was 76. Franklin had been in ill health for a number of years before officially retiring from performances in 2017.
Her story is an original classic of a voice and spirit raised in the church. Her father was the Rev. C.L. Franklin, pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. She began singing in the choir at a young age, and when she turned 18 started a professional recording career that would span more than 50 years. In 1967, she signed with Atlantic Records and recorded four songs that became iconic: “Respect, ” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Spanish Harlem” and “Think.”
By the start of the 1970s, she was known as the Queen of Soul and garnered hit after hit, stopping for a time when her father was shot. Missing in action but not in talent for a few years, she shocked the public again with an appearance in the 1979 hit film The Blues Brothers, performing her seminal hit ‘Think” and garnering another generation of followers.
Franklin recorded a total of 112 singles that charted on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top 10 pop singles, 100 R&B entries and 20 No. 1 R&B singles. Her recording success made her the most charted female artist in Billboard history. In her lifetime, she won 18 Grammys, sold more than 75 million records, and she was the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
In 2005, Franklin was also inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, and in 2012 was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. America’s premier music magazine, Rolling Stone, includes her as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and also on the list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Franklin’s life will soon be a subject of a major Hollywood movie. In January 2018, it was announced that singer and actress Jennifer Hudson will portray the Queen of Soul in the upcoming project.