Franklin, Aretha

Franklin, Aretha

▪ American singer
in full  Aretha Louise Franklin 
born March 25, 1942, Memphis, Tenn., U.S.
 American singer who defined the golden age of soul music of the 1960s. Franklin's mother, Barbara, was a gospel (gospel music) singer and pianist. Her father, C.L. Franklin, presided over the New Bethel Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan, and was a minister of national influence. A singer himself, he was noted for his brilliant sermons, many of which were recorded by .

      Her parents separated when she was six, and Franklin remained with her father in Detroit. Her mother died when Aretha was 10. As a young teen, Franklin performed with her father on his gospel programs in major cities throughout the country and was recognized as a vocal prodigy. Her central influence, Clara Ward of the renowned Ward Singers, was a family friend. Other gospel greats of the day—Albertina Walker and Jackie Verdell—helped shape young Franklin's style. Her album The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin (1956) captures the electricity of her performances as a 14-year-old.

      At age 18, with her father's blessing, Franklin switched from sacred to secular music. She moved to New York City, where executive John Hammond, who had signed Count Basie (Basie, Count) and Billie Holiday (Holiday, Billie), arranged her recording contract and supervised sessions highlighting her in a blues- jazz vein. From that first session, “Today I Sing the Blues” (1960) remains a classic. But, as her Detroit friends on the Motown label enjoyed hit after hit, Franklin struggled to achieve crossover success. Columbia placed her with a variety of producers who marketed her to both adults (“If Ever You Should Leave Me,” 1963) and teens (“Soulville,” 1964). Without targeting any particular genre, she sang everything from Broadway ballads to youth-oriented rhythm and blues. Critics recognized her talent, but the public remained lukewarm until 1966, when she switched to , where producer Jerry Wexler allowed her to sculpt her own musical identity.

      At Atlantic, Franklin returned to her gospel-blues roots, and the results were sensational. “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)” (1967), recorded at Fame Studios in Florence, Alabama, was her first million-seller. Surrounded by sympathetic musicians playing spontaneous arrangements and devising the background vocals herself, Franklin refined a style associated with Ray Charles (Charles, Ray)—a rousing mixture of gospel and rhythm and blues—and raised it to new heights. As a civil-rights (civil rights movement)-minded nation lent greater support to black urban music, Franklin was crowned the “Queen of Soul.” “Respect,” her 1967 cover of Otis Redding (Redding, Otis)'s spirited composition, became an anthem operating on personal, sexual, and racial levels. “Think” (1968), which Franklin wrote herself, also had more than one meaning. For the next half-dozen years, she became a hit maker of unprecedented proportions; she was “Lady Soul.”

      In the early 1970s she triumphed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco before an audience of flower children and on whirlwind tours of Europe and Latin America. Her return to church, Amazing Grace (1972), is considered one of the great gospel albums of any era. By the late 1970s disco cramped Franklin's style and eroded her popularity. But in 1982, with help from singer-songwriter-producer Luther Vandross (Vandross, Luther), she was back on top with a new label, Arista, and a new dance hit, “Jump to It,” followed by “Freeway of Love” (1985). A reluctant interviewee, Franklin kept her private life private, claiming that the popular perception associating her with the unhappiness of singers Bessie Smith (Smith, Bessie) and Billie Holiday (Holiday, Billie) was misinformed.

David Ritz
      In 1987 Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While her album sales in the 1990s and 2000s failed to approach the numbers of previous decades, Franklin remained the Queen of Soul, and in 2009 she electrified a crowd of more than one million with her performance of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama (Obama, Barack).


Representative Works

Aretha (1961)
Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington (1964)
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
Aretha Now (1968)
Lady Soul (1968)
Soul '69 (1969)
Spirit in the Dark (1970)
Live at Fillmore West (1971)
Amazing Grace (1972)
Sparkle (1976)
Jump to It (1982)

Additional Reading
Franklin's career is discussed in Peter Guralnick, Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom (1986, reprinted 1994), pp. 332–352; and Jerry Wexler and David Ritz, Rhythm and the Blues: A Life in American Music (1993), pp. 203–216, an overview written by Franklin's main producer, Wexler. Aretha Franklin and David Ritz, From These Roots (1999), is an autobiography.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Franklin,Aretha — Frank·lin (frăngkʹlĭn), Aretha. Born 1942. American singer known for her recordings of soul and gospel music. Her popular songs include “Respect” (1967) and “Chain of Fools” (1968). * * * …   Universalium

  • Franklin, Aretha (Louise) — born March 25, 1942, Memphis, Tenn., U.S. U.S. popular singer. Franklin s family moved from Memphis to Detroit when she was two. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a well known revivalist preacher; his church and home were visited by musical… …   Universalium

  • Franklin, Aretha (Louise) — (n. 25 mar. 1942, Memphis, Tenn., EE.UU). Cantante popular estadounidense. La familia de Franklin se mudó de Memphis a Detroit cuando ella tenía dos años. Su padre, C.L. Franklin, fue un conocido predicador del movimiento renovador de la fe; su… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Aretha Franklin — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Aretha Franklin Información personal Nombre real Aretha Louis Franklin …   Wikipedia Español

  • Franklin — (de «Benjamín Franklin», científico y político estadounidense del siglo XVIII) m. Fís. Franklinio. * * * franklin. (De B. Franklin, 1706 1790, científico y político estadounidense). m …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • franklin — (de «Benjamín Franklin», científico y político estadounidense del siglo XVIII) m. Fís. Franklinio. * * * franklin. (De B. Franklin, 1706 1790, científico y político estadounidense). m. Fís. Unidad de carga eléctrica en el Sistema Cegesimal,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Aretha Franklin — Infobox musical artist Name = Aretha Franklin Img capt = Aretha Franklin performing in 2007 Background = solo singer | Birth name = Aretha Louise Franklin Born = birth date and age|mf=yes|1942|3|25 [… …   Wikipedia

  • Aretha Franklin — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Franklin. Aretha Franklin Aretha Frankl …   Wikipédia en Français

  • franklin — /frangk lin/, n. Eng. Hist. (in the 14th and 15th centuries) a freeholder who was not of noble birth. [1250 1300; ME fra(u)nkelin < AF fraunclein, equiv. to fraunc free, FRANK1 + lein LING1; formed on the model of OF chamberlain CHAMBERLAIN] * *… …   Universalium

  • Franklin — /frangk lin/, n. 1. Benjamin, 1706 90, American statesman, diplomat, author, scientist, and inventor. 2. Sir John, 1786 1847, English Arctic explorer. 3. John Hope, born 1915, U.S. historian and educator. 4. a district in extreme N Canada, in the …   Universalium

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