Since childhood, Aretha Franklin had a very strong and amazing voice which could be spotted at the children’s choir of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, CL Franklin, was a pastor.
Her father encouraged her musical career by taking her to sing and perform in different churches on what he calls “gospel caravan” tours. With the help of her father, she signed her first recording contract with JVB Records and soon released her first album titled Songs of Faith in 1956.
By the time she turned eighteen, she went secular, releasing several albums and songs that became major hits. Aretha Franklin is currently one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, with over 75 million records sold worldwide. She has received several awards, including 18 Grammies.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 (the first performer to receive this honour), the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Aretha has twice been inscribed on the listed Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 greatest artists of all time; and the 100 greatest singers of all time.
Learn more about this legendary music icon of all time, her biography, career, kids, husband and all other facts.
“Aunt Ree” as she was affectionately known as music icon Whitney Houston was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father and Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, a native of Shelby, Mississippi, was an itinerant preacher and her mother, Barbara Franklin, was an accomplished pianist and singer.
Aretha has several siblings – biological and half-siblings. Her parents had three other children beside her and other children outside of their marriage. When Franklin was only two years old, the family moved to Buffalo, New York, and again to Detroit, Michigan when she was just five years old.
Following allegations of promiscuity by C. Franklin, the couple divorced in 1948 and Aretha’s mother had to move back to Buffalo. However, Barbara died in 1952, a few weeks before Aretha’s 10th birthday. Different women took turns raising Franklin and his siblings, including their grandmother Rachel.
After her mother’s death, Aretha Franklin began learning to play the piano by ear and to sing at New Bethel Baptist Church Detroit, where her father served as pastor. At the age of fourteen, her father became her manager, taking her on tour to perform at various churches and church gatherings. Her father also signed her to her first recording contract with JVB Records and in 1956 she released her first album titled Songs of Faith.
Two of his singles “Never Grow Old” and “Precious ‘Lord, Take Me’” were released on Gospel radio stations. Influenced by singer and songwriter Sam Cooke, after Aretha turned 18, she told her father, who was also her manager at the time, about her decision to go secular. brought Columbia Records to their doorstep.
In 1960 she signed with Columbia Records, as a five percent artist, in September of the same year she released her first single. Today I Sing the Blues, which later made it to the top ten on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Sellers chart. The following year, she released her first album – Aretha: with the Ray Bryant Combo, under the record. She released two more albums under the record before signing with Atlantic Records in 1966.
Her debut album with Atlantic titled I’ve Never Loved a Man Like I Love You, was a huge hit, as were her other two singles “Baby I Love You” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman)”. Her first two Grammies came in 1968, she was blessed with the SCLC Drum Beat award for musicians from her longtime friend, Martin Luther King Jr, just two months before his death.
She left Atlantic Records in 1979 and signed a deal with Clive Davis’ Arista Records and that same year she had the rare opportunity to perform at the Royal Albert Hall before the Queen of England – Queen Elizabeth.
In 2006, she performed in Super Bowl XL alongside Aaron Neville and Dr. John. That same year, she would make international headlines at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony. In 2010, she received an honorary degree from Yale University.
In 2014, Aretha Franklin was at RCA Records, a sister label to Columbia through Sony Music Entertainment, working with her old friend Clive Davis. She is the first woman to have 100 songs on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
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Aretha Franklin, husband, children, sister
Aretha Franklin has been married twice. Her first marriage dates back to 1961, with Ted White. The couple divorced in 1969 following allegations of domestic violence. She remarried nearly ten years later to actor Glynn Turman. Franklin and Turman would later separate in 1982, after Franklin moved from California to Michigan. Their divorce came two years later, in 1984.
The music icon was twice engaged to Willie Wilkerson. The last engagement was called off by Franklin in 2012.
She has four sons. Aretha had her first son Clarence in 1955 when she was only twelve and second son Edward in 1957 when she was fourteen. She had Clarence for a boy (Donald Burk) she knew from school, and Edward for another boy named Edward Jordan. Both Clarence and Edward took his surname. Her grandmother and older sister Erma had to help take care of her two boys while she focused on her music career.
Franklin had her third son Ted White, Jr., in 1964 with her ex-husband, Ted White. Ted is known professionally as Teddy Richards and played guitar in his mother’s band at gigs. His fourth andHis youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham, was born in 1970 to his road manager Ken Cunningham.
His older sister, Erma, was also a professional singer. Her most recognized recording is the original version of “Piece of My Heart,” which earned her a Grammy Award nomination. Sadly, Erma died in 2002 after battling throat cancer. She was 64 years old.
Aretha’s younger sister, Carolyn, was also a singer and songwriter. She died of breast cancer in 1988.
Is Aretha Franklin dead?
The legendary singer has had several health challenges and struggled with several addictions, the septuagenarian. She had to cancel a series of concerts in 2017 due to health issues. In 2018, the icon who had struggled with her weight for years also canceled a series of shows citing doctor’s orders.
She finally died on August 16, 2018, at the age of 76, after eight years of battling pancreatic cancer.
Other Facts You Should Know About Him
The music icon received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979 and in 1987 she became the first singer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
She received the Grammy Legend Award in 1991, followed by the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
The mother of four struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism. She finally quit smoking in 1992.
Aretha Franklin is also a Kennedy Center Fellow and recipient of the National Medal of Arts.
In 2005, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.