Aretha Louise Franklin was born to Rev. Clarence LaVaughn "C.L." (Walker) Franklin and Barbara Vernice Siggers in Memphis, Tennessee March 25th, 1942. She had several siblings, including Cecil, Carolyn, and Erma Franklin, some from both of her parents' extramarital relationships.
Aretha loved her family fiercely and insisted they brought her the most joy in her life.
Aretha began her singing career in her father's Baptist church singing gospel music. She was taught to play piano by ear and often accompanied herself throughout her career. She recorded her first gospel album at 14. Aretha signed to Columbia Records in 1960. After a few years, she landed at Atlantic Records and her popularity took off.
In the 80's Aretha signed with Arista and Clive Davis. Many of the singles she put out during those years that ended up on the radio were collaborations with other artists across the musical gamut. She later moved to RCA. Over her lifetime she had more than 100 singles on the Billboard charts, 17 of which were top 10 pop songs and 20 which were number 1 R&B hits.
Aretha was the recipient of numerous awards, including the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and 18 Grammy awards, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was also honored as the Greatest Singer of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine. She had honorary degrees from Yale, Princeton, and Harvard.
Aretha was also an outspoken supporter of the civil rights movement, touring with Martin Luther King, Jr at the tender age of 16. Her cover of Otis Redding's "Respect" became one of the anthems of the movement.
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Categories: This Day In History March 25 | This Day In History August 16 | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan | Famous Musicians of the 20th Century | Grammy Award Winners of the 20th Century | Memphis, Tennessee | Musicians | Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Songwriters | Recording Artists | US Black Heritage Project Managed Profiles | African-American Notables | Notables