Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) began her career singing gospel at her father, minister C. L. Franklin’s church as a child. In 1960, at age 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think”. These hits and more helped her gain the title “Queen of Soul” by the end of the 1960s decade.
Aretha has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. In 1980, after leaving Atlantic Records, Franklin signed with Clive Davis’ Arista Records and that same year gave a command performance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of Queen Elizabeth. Franklin also made an acclaimed guest role as a waitress in the comedy musical, The Blues Brothers.
In 1985, inspired by her desire to have a “younger sound” in her music, her fourth Arista album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who, became her first album to be certified platinum, after selling well over a million copies, thanks to the hits, “Freeway of Love” and “Who’s Zoomin Who”. The following year’s Aretha album nearly matched this success with the hit singles “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Jimmy Lee” and “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”, her international number-one duet with George Michael. During that period, Franklin provided vocals to the theme songs of the shows, A Different World and Together. Franklin performed The Star Spangled Banner with Aaron Neville and Dr. John for Super Bowl XL, held in her hometown of Detroit in February 2006. She later made international headlines for performing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama‘s inaugural ceremony.
Aretha has married twice. She married Ted White in 1961, despite objections from her father. After a contentious marriage that involved domestic violence, she divorced White in 1969. She then married her second husband, actor Glynn Turman, on April 11, 1978 at her father’s church. By marrying Turman, Franklin became stepmother of Turman’s three children from a previous marriage. Franklin and Turman separated in 1982 after Franklin returned to Michigan from California, and they divorced in 1984.
She was made Whitney’s honorary aunt, and Whitney often referred to her as “Auntie Ree”. Whitney died on February 11, 2012. Franklin stated she was surprised by her death. She had initially planned to perform at Houston’s memorial service on February 18, but her representative claimed that Franklin suffered a leg spasm and was unable to attend. In response to criticism of her non-attendance, she stated, “God knows I wanted to be there, but I couldn’t”