This afternoon, the world was met with the upsetting news that the ‘Queen of Soul’, Aretha Franklin had died in Detroit aged 76 after an eight year battle with cancer. Aretha was a true talent, legend and soul icon and it is with great sadness that we share the news of her passing. There is no doubt that Aretha’s inspirational qualities spanned way beyond her music so Team TSE would like to share with you our top 10 things you should know about Aretha that will undoubtedly increase your R.E.S.P.E.C.T for her even more.
1. Aretha Franklin was the first female ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. This is no surprise given that her career ultimately spanned more than 60 years and earned her more than a dozen Grammys.
2. Aretha’s father, Clarence, was a preacher from Mississippi and her mother, Barbara, was a talented piano player and singer. Aretha began singing at her father’s church in Detroit and undoubtedly inherited her innate talent for music from her mother.
3. Aretha was a mother of four sons – the first of which she had at just 12 years old, and the second at 14. Aretha’s sheer determination never stopped her raising her four children to the best of her ability whilst pursuing a successful career.
4. This strong, independent, talented woman overcame being the victim of domestic violence at the tender age of 19 and never let the experience dampen her drive to be successful and support her four sons.
5. Aretha is not only one of the best-selling female artists the world has witnessed but, also, one of the best-selling artists of all time having sold over 75 million records worldwide! Girl power!
6. In 2018, Aretha Franklin was named ‘The Most Popular Female Artist in America’ in a YouGov US poll which, judging by her record sales and response to her passing, would seem highly plausible.
7. Aretha Franklin performed at the inaugurations of not one, not two, but three American presidents; Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In his emotional response to her performance of ‘Natural Woman’ at his inauguration, Obama commented: “Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual way… that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something fully of beauty, vitality and hope.”
8. Aretha used to travel around the USA with Martin Luther King Jr promoting the rights of African-Americans. She also gave an emotional performance at Luther King’s funeral in 1968.
9. Aretha possessed an extremely rare four-octave vocal range – undoubtedly the magic behind her powerhouse performances.
10. In 2005 Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her lifetime achievements within the Arts.
It is undeniable that Aretha Franklin was an exceptionally talented, driven and inspirational female and we have no doubt that her iconic music, and her legacy, will live on for many generations to come.