Aretha Louise Franklin (1942–2018) was an American soul and gospel singer. An extraordinarily gifted singer with a stunning, five-octave vocal range, she broke down traditional musical boundaries by melding the traditions of gospel, pop, jazz, rock, soul, and rhythm and blues (R&B) music. Aretha has had more million-selling singles than any other female artist has.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Aretha’s father was an influential preacher in Detroit. She got her start as a child singing gospel music at his church revival meetings. She made her first record when she was 12 and then had big hit-singles in the late ’60s like “I Never Loved a Man,” “Respect,” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “Think.” Her hits and her dramatic, powerful voice had earned her the title ‘the Queen of Soul.’
Franklin released more than 40 albums and 90 of her singles reached the Billboard charts. She became the first female to earn her 100th hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B song chart with “Rolling in the Deep” (2014.) “Respect” and other songs became anthems for both the American Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements.
Franklin won seventeen Grammy Awards during her lifetime, including the 1991 Grammy Legends Award and the 1994 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1987, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.