Aretha Franklin Biography, barbara, Franklin’s mother, was a gospel musician and singer. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a prominent clergyman in the country and served as the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. He was well known for his insightful lectures, many of which Chess Records recorded. He was also a vocalist. Franklin’s parents divorced when she was six years old, and she stayed in Detroit with her father. Aretha was 10 when her mother passed away. Franklin was hailed as a vocal prodigy when, as a young girl, she appeared with her father on his gospel programs in well-known locations across the nation.
Her primary inspiration, Clara Ward of the illustrious Ward Singers, was a relative. Albertina Walker and Jackie Verdell, two other legendary gospel singers of the era, influenced young Franklin’s style. The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin, her 1956 record, perfectly captures the fervor of her performances when she was just 14 years old.
With her father’s approval, Franklin made the transition from religious to secular music at the age of 18. She relocated to New York City, where John Hammond, a Columbia Records executive who had previously signed Billie Holiday and Count Basie, negotiated her recording deal and oversaw recordings that featured her in a blues-jazz style. “Today I Sing the Blues” (1960) is still a favourite from that first session.
Franklin, on the other hand, found it difficult to find crossover success while her Detroit friends on the Motown label were having hit after hit. She was partnered with a number of filmmakers through Columbia who promoted her to both adults and teenagers in their films Soulville (1964) and If Ever You Should Leave Me (1963). She performed a wide range of music, from youth-oriented rhythm and blues to Broadway ballads, without focusing on any specific genre. Critics acknowledged her skill, but until 1966, when she went to Atlantic Records, where producer Jerry Wexler allowed her to forge her own musical identity, the audience remained uninterested.
Franklin went back to her gospel-blues origins at Atlantic, and the results were phenomenal. Her first million-selling single was “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” which was recorded in 1967 at Fame Studios in Florence, Alabama. Franklin developed a Ray Charles-inspired sound—a stirring fusion of gospel and rhythm and blues—and elevated it to new heights while surrounded by friendly musicians playing impromptu arrangements and creating the background vocals herself.
Franklin was dubbed the “Queen of Soul” as a civil rights-conscious society gave black urban music more backing. Her 1967 rendition of Otis Redding’s energetic song “Respect” became an anthem that addressed issues of race, sexuality, and personal respect. Franklin penned “Think” (1968) herself, and it has multiple meanings. She rose to the title of “Lady Soul” during the course of the next six years and produced hits on an unparalleled scale.