The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76 at her home in Detroit. She was in hospice care, surrounded by family and friends. She was reportedly down to just 86 pounds. She had announced her retirement in February 2017 amidst her health issues, stating that she would be recording but not doing any concerts. Fans were disappointed to know that they will see less of Franklin. But, with evergreen songs like Respect and Natural Woman, her fans have a lot to remember her for.
In addition to that, her story is set to grace the big-screen and American singer, Jennifer Hudson, is all set to portray Franklin. Today, paying tribute to the late phenomenal singer, we are looking back at her award-winning career and more facts about her.
#5. A High School Dropout
Franklin attended Northern High School but dropped out during her sophomore year. But, that didn’t stop her from getting decorated honors. Globally hailed as one of America’s greatest voices, she had two honorary doctorates of music. One from Berklee College of Music and the other from Yale University.
#4. Record Sales and Accolades
Franklin, who was crowned “Queen of Soul” in 1962, stood as one of the best-selling artists of all time with 75 million record sales worldwide. Since the release of her debut album, Songs of Faith, in 1956, she had recorded 42 studio albums.
After releasing her cover of Adele’s hit, Rolling in the Deep, she became the first artist to have placed 100 songs on Billboard's Hot R&B song chart in 2014. She was also the first female artist to have 77 Hot 100 entries and twenty No. 1 R&B singles. She had won 18 Grammys out of 44 nominations and was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More recently, in a YouGov US poll 2018, she was named the “The Most Popular Female Artist in America.”
#3 Sung For Presidents
With her vocal range spanning about four octaves, the legendary rhythm and blues singer made history. Starting off singing at the very young age of 13, she has pinned her name to several record-breaking performances. More importantly, she had performed at the inauguration for three US Presidents.
She performed for the 39th U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, 42nd President, Bill Clinton, and 44th President, Barack Obama. Admiring Franklin’s fantastic performance at the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors, Obama said,
American history wells up when Aretha Sings. Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, and rock and roll - the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.
#2. Cancer, Genetic?
Franklin had been struggling with numerous illnesses throughout the years but chose to keep her struggles private. Back in 2010, she canceled a number of concerts after she decided to have surgery for an undisclosed tumor. She was rumored to have withdrawn the shows due to her pancreatic cancer, but she denied that the ailment had anything to do with it. During an interview in 2011, she mentioned that the surgery would “add 15 to 20 years,” to her life.
She isn’t the only one in her family to battle cancer, in fact, she lost her three siblings due to the disease. Her brother, Cecil died of lung cancer and her sisters, Carolyn and Erma, succumbed to breast cancer and throat cancer, respectively.
#1. An Anthem For Changing Times: Respect
Respect was a huge success when Otis Redding released the song for the first time in 1965, and countless of its covers have been released over the years. But, when we hear Franklin’s version of Respect, which earned her two Grammys, most of us forget that it wasn’t even her original song.
After her rendition hit the market on April 29, 1967, the then-ongoing feminist and civil rights movements adopted the song as an anthem demanding equal footing. In a way, it became much more of a hit than any of its covers or even the original one.
Franklin also performed the song in the 1998 sequel to The Blues Brothers. The song became one of the most important pop songs of all time with several honors including induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987, its addition into the National Recording Registry and inclusion in the list of “Songs of the Century.”
The whole world loves and respects you, Aretha. Rest in Peace!
- Fascinating facts about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin
Quick facts about Aretha Franklin, 'The Queen of Soul'