RIP: Aretha Franklin, The Queen Of Soul

The music world is mourning the loss of one of its greats yesterday. Beyond the 75 million records sold and the many Grammys, the power of that magnificent soulful voice will live on.


RIP: Aretha Franklin, The Queen Of Soul

By FYI Staff

The Queen of Soul has gone. The death of Aretha Franklin in Detroit this morning (Aug. 16) was confirmed by multiple sources. Aged 76, she had been in failing health in recent years, and was placed in hospice care at her home earlier this week. AP cited pancreatic cancer as the cause of death. Visitors in recent days had included Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, TN, on March 25, 1942, the daughter of a roving preacher, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, known as C.L. Franklin. Aretha got her start singing gospel in the choir of her father's church, New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success. 


Her solo career took off upon signing with Atlantic Records in 1967. She quickly broke through with such hits as the pre-feminist anthem, “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Think,” going on to record a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including Top 10 Pop singles and 100 R&B hits. She has been termed the most charted female artist in history.

Franklin's worldwide record sales are estimated at 75 million. She won 18 Grammy Awards and was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.

Franklin left Atlantic to sign with Clive Davis' Arista Records in 1980, and this revived a career that had begun flagging. Her role in the smash hit Blues Brothers movie helped introduce her to a brand-new audience, and her fifth Arista album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who? became her first-ever platinum seller, via the hits “Freeway Of Love” and “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves."

In 2011, Franklin started her own indie label, Aretha's Records, prior to signing with RCA Records and reuniting with Clive Davis, who executive produced her 2014 album Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, her 41st studio album.


Franklin's final album was 2017's A Brand New Me, released by Rhino Records and Atlantic Records. It features archival vocal recordings that Franklin recorded for Atlantic Records accompanied by new orchestral arrangements by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and newly recorded backing vocals.

Earlier this week, a tribute concert was announced as being planned for Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 14, reportedly entitled Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute To Aretha Franklin. No lineup has yet been revealed, but it is sure to be a star-studded one. Franklin's last known performance was at a private gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation last November.

Beyonce and Jay-Z dedicated their Detroit concert on Monday night to Franklin.

Sources: AllAccess, Wikipedia, Washington Post

The Beatles photographed in 1965.
FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

The Beatles photographed in 1965.

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