Real name: Aretha Louise Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. She has been called for many years "The Queen of Soul", but many also call her "Lady Soul," as well as the more affectionate "Sister Ree." She is renowned for her soul recordings but is also adept at jazz, rock, blues, pop, gospel, and even opera. She is generally regarded as one of the greatest vocalists ever due to her ability to inject whatever she may be singing about with passion, soul and sheer conviction thanks to a massive vocal range and effortless power.
Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee to Rev. C. L. Franklin, a Baptist minister, and Barbara Siggers Franklin. Aretha's parents had a troubled relationship and they separated when Aretha was six. Siggers died of a heart attack when Franklin was ten. The third of four siblings, Aretha's father's first pulpit after Memphis was in Buffalo, New York. The family subsequently moved to Detroit, Michigan where Rev. Franklin assumed the pulpit of the New Bethel Baptist Church, and became a legend nationally as a preacher. Adept at the piano as well as having a gifted voice, Franklin became a child prodigy. By the age of fourteen, she was given a record deal with Checker Records, where her father recorded his sermons and gospel vocal recordings and issued The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin in 1956. Her earlier influences included Clara Ward and Mahalia Jackson, both of whom spent a lot of time in Aretha's home. Teenage pregnancies derailed Franklin's gospel career when she gave birth to the first and second of her four sons in 1955 and 1957. By the time she returned to singing, instead of performing gospel and inspired by the successes of idols Dinah Washington and Sam Cooke, Aretha decided to secure herself a deal as a pop artist. After being offered contracts from Motown and RCA, Franklin signed with Columbia Records in 1960. Her recordings during that time reflected a jazz influence inspired by Washington and hardly reflected on her gospel roots. Franklin initially scored a few hits on Columbia including her version of "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)", which peaked at number 37 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1961, and the Top 10 R&B hits, "Today I Sing The Blues", "Won't Be Long" and "Operation Heartbreak". However, by the end of 1966, with little commercial success obtained during six years on Columbia and desperate for a sound, she accepted an offer to sign with Atlantic Records. According to Franklin years later, "they made me sit down on the piano and the hits came."
- 1967 I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)
- 1967 Aretha Arrives
- 1968 Lady Soul
- 1968 Aretha Now
- 1970 This Girl's In Love With You
- 1971 Aretha Live at Fillmore West
- 1971 Young, Gifted and Black
- 1972 Amazing Grace
- 1973 Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky)
- 1974 With Everything I Feel in Me
- 1974 Let Me in Your Life
- 1975 You
- 1976 Sparkle
- 1978 Almighty Fire
- 1982 Jump to It
- 1983 Get It Right'
- 1985 Who's Zoomin' Who?
- 1991 What You See Is What You Sweat
- 1994 Greatest Hits 1980-94
- 1998 A Rose Is Still A Rose
- 2003 So Damn Happy
- 2007 Jewels In The Crown: All-Star Duets With The Queen