Artist picture of Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

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In the 1990s Mojo magazine voted Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of all time and it's a view echoed by many people who've been enthralled by electrifying records like 'Respect', 'Say a Little Prayer' and '(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman'. The daughter of Baptist minister Rev C. L. Franklin and singer/pianist Barbara Siggers Franklin, she was raised on gospel music and, mentored by the great gospel singer James Cleveland, made her first album at the age of 14. By the mid-1960s, however, she was embracing pop and R&B under the guidance of Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, resulting in many of her classic records as she took songs as disparate as Burt Bacharach's ballad 'Say a Little Prayer' and the old pop hit 'Spanish Harlem' and with her fiercely individual style made them completely her own.

By the 1980s she was even collaborating on pop records with younger stars such as George Michael and Eurythmics and although she recorded only sporadically through the 1990s and 2000s, she sang at the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama and proved her reputation as one of the all-time greats was unimpeachable. In 2014 she signed a contract with RCA Records and released 'Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics'. She became the first female artist to achieve 100 songs on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart as her cover of Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep' charted at number 47.

Although her health was failing, Franklin kept performing, with a recital of 'Natural Woman' at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors for inductee Carole King, co-writer of the song, and a Thanksgiving Day performance at of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at Detroit's Ford Field. She released 'A Brand New Me' in 2017, an album of tracks recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which charted at number five on Billboard's Top Classical Albums Chart. A short time later, she gave her final performance at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York for Elton John's 25th anniversary gala for the AIDS Foundation. After being announced in the media that she had taken gravely ill in August 2018, she passed away just a few days later.

Artist biography compiled by BDS/West 10. All rights reserved