First woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
"Aretha Franklin is an American singer and songwriter. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success.
Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Spanish Harlem" and "Think". By the end of the 1960s decade she had gained the title "The Queen of Soul". Franklin eventually recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart's history. Franklin also recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Lady Soul, Young, Gifted and Black and Amazing Grace before experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s. After her father was shot in 1979, Franklin left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with her part in the film The Blues Brothers and with the albums Jump to It and Who's Zoomin' Who?. In 1998, Franklin won international acclaim for singing the opera aria "Nessun dorma", at the Grammys of that year replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that same year, she scored her final Top 40 recording with "A Rose Is Still a Rose". Franklin's other popular and well known hits include "Rock Steady", "Jump to It", "Freeway of Love", "Who's Zoomin' Who", "Chain Of Fools", "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (with George Michael), and a remake of The Rolling Stones song "Jumpin' Jack Flash".
Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time; and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time...
According to Richie Unterberger, Franklin is "one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged." She has often been described as a great singer and musician due to "vocal flexibility, interpretive intelligence, skillful piano-playing, her ear, her experience." Franklin's voice has been described as being a "powerful mezzo-soprano voice" and has been praised for her arrangements and interpretations of other artists' hit songs. Of describing Franklin's voice as a youngster on her first album, Songs of Faith, released when she was just fourteen, Jerry Wexler explained that Franklin's voice "was not that of a child but rather of an ecstatic hierophant. "Franklin's image went through rapid changes throughout her career. During the 1960s, Franklin was known for wearing bouffant hairdos and extravagant dresses that were sometimes embellished with either mink fur or feathers. In the 1970s, embracing her roots, Franklin briefly wore an Afro and the Afrocentric styled clothing admired by her peers. In the mid-1970s, after dropping weight, Franklin began wearing more fitted attire. By the 1980s, she had settled on wearing evening gowns and extravagant dresses...
Franklin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, had her voice declared a Michigan "natural resource" in 1985, and became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. NARAS awarded her a Grammy Legend Award in 1991, then the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. Franklin was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Franklin become the second woman inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. She was the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year, performing at the Grammys days later. Following news of Franklin's surgery and recovery in February 2011, the Grammys ceremony paid tribute to the singer with a medley of her classics performed by Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, and Yolanda Adams. That same year she was ranked among the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time top artists, and ranked first on the Rolling Stone list of Greatest Singers of All Time.
Inducted to the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012, Franklin has been described as "the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America" and a "symbol of black equality". Asteroid 249516 Aretha was named in her honor in 2014.
"American history wells up when Aretha sings", president Obama explained his emotional response to her performance of "A Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. "Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll--the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope".
On June 8, 2017, the City of Detroit honored Franklin's legacy by renaming a portion of Madison Street, between Brush and Witherell Streets, "Aretha Franklin Way".
On 29 January 2018, the Oakland Press's correspondent Gary Graff finally confirmed that the American Idol runner-up Jennifer Hudson will take the role to play Franklin in her coming biopic. The news was announced by the Queen of Soul's executive producer Clive Davis, who made public their decision on the choice of actors casting in the film two days before Graff's article went published.
Franklin received an honorary degree from Harvard University in 2014, as well as honorary doctorates in music from Princeton University, 2012; Yale University, 2010; Brown University, 2009; Berklee College of Music, 2006; New England Conservatory of Music, 1995; and University of Michigan, 1987. Franklin was granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Wayne State University in 1990 and an honorary Doctor of Law by Bethune-Cookman College in 1975." (1)