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.
Franklin was the first woman to be admitted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, a National Medal of Arts in 1999, and a Kennedy Center Honor in 1994. Franklin continued to hold the title of Queen of Soul despite the fact that her album sales in the 1990s and 2000s lagged behind those of earlier decades. She captivated a crowd of more than a million in 2009 when she sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at Barack Obama’s inauguration, and she was equally as stunning in 2015 when she performed Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman)” at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.
Houston made her acting debut in The Bodyguard in 1992, the same year she wed musician Bobby Brown. The movie featured Houston’s interpretation of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which peaked at number one for 14 weeks. Houston took home the Grammys’ top honors for album of the year, record of the year, and best female pop vocal performance that year thanks to the film’s soundtrack. She resumed performing in the middle of the 1990s, appearing in movies like The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and Waiting to Exhale (1995), both of which gave her popular hits on the soundtrack.
Houston released My Love Is Your Love in 1998, which received positive reviews from the critics despite not selling as much as her earlier works and earning her another Grammy Award. She agreed to a $100 million multi-album deal with Arista in 2001, but her personal problems quickly eclipsed her singing career. Houston’s turbulent relationship with Brown—the two separated in 2007—as well as her known drug usage and money troubles gave the tabloids plenty to write about. Just Whitney, her 2002 album, was a personal rebuttal to her critics, but its sales lagged behind past endeavors. With the exception of a forgettable holiday album, One Wish (2003), Houston practically retired in the years that followed.
She started her return campaign in February 2009 by performing a four-song performance at Clive Davis’s yearly pre-Grammy Awards banquet. Following a positive reception to the performance, Houston revealed in June that a new album of songs will be released later that year. Positive reviews followed the release of I Look to You in August, and noteworthy tracks on the album included the upbeat “Million Dollar Bill” (written by Alicia Keys) and the title track, a slow-building ballad by R. Kelly. Houston passed away in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel in February 2012, just before Davis’s pre-Grammy celebration.
The cause of death was identified as accidental drowning in a coroner’s report that was issued in March, with heart disease and cocaine usage mentioned as contributory factors, houston made a posthumous appearance in the 2012 musical movie Sparkle, which she coproduced. In 2020, she was admitted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.