Biography of Aretha Louise Franklin and music career

Published At: 05 January 2021 , 08:31 PM

Biography Aretha Louise Franklin

Aretha Louise Franklin is an American singer who performed songs in the styles of rhythm and blues, soul, and gospel. For her powerful and flexible vocals, she was dubbed the Queen of Soul, or Lady Soul. In her success, she was not inferior to either Freddie Mercury or Whitney Houston: in 1987, Aretha became the first woman whose name was entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2008 Rolling Stone magazine named her the greatest singer in history.

Childhood and youth

Aretha Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of a priest and nurse. Her father Clarence was an excellent speaker, and her mother Barbara was a kind and loving woman, but the relationship in the family did not work out. Areta's parents fought constantly and ultimately divorced when the girl was six years old. Then the Franklin family lived in Detroit, Michigan. Not wanting to stay in an unloved city, Barbara threw two daughters and three sons on her husband and left for New York.

At the age of 10, little Areta developed a talent for singing. Her father, noticing this, brought the girl to the church choir. The child's voice, which had not yet matured, attracted people from all over the city. Clerence was a master of his craft and gave heartfelt sermons, but it was said that the pearl of The Bethel Baptist Church was Aretha.

In 1956, Franklin performed the Dear Lord prayer in front of 4,500 parishioners. Then she was 14 years old. Gospel surprised and amazed the producer of JVB Records, and he decided to allow the girl to record her debut album. It was named Songs of Faith.

The record was recorded during the performance of the church choir. It includes nine tracks. Later this album was reprinted several times. From this recording, the career of the future superstar was supposed to go uphill, but young Aretha brought home the news - she was pregnant. By the age of 17, she had already raised two sons and was expecting a third. In 1959, Franklin decided that she would not trade her talent for the life of a single mother. She left the children in the care of her father and went to conquer New York.


After moving to the Big Apple, Aretha Franklin immediately got down to business - sent a demo tape of The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin (studio reissue of Songs of Faith) to several companies. All labels were delighted with her powerful voice, but offers came from only three. As a result, Aretha chose in favor of Columbia Records, where John Hammond worked, the producer who gave birth to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Billie Holiday, and others.

The choice, as time has shown, was not entirely successful: yes, Columbia Records won the right to promote the young singer, but they did not know how to properly dispose of her talent. Instead of letting the girl choose her style, the producers secured her status as a pop singer.

Ultimately, the ten albums recorded between 1960 and 1966 were called dry by music critics, and the songs hard-won. They did not go unnoticed in the charts, but they sold out in modest circulation.

Aretha Franklin in the recording studio

The record Unforgettable turned out to be relatively popular - a tribute dedicated to Aretha's favorite singer Dina Washington. Franklin once noted in an interview:

“I first heard Dinah when I was still a child. I never met her in person, although she and my father were good friends. I've always wanted to record something in her honor. I did not try to imitate her unique manner, I just sang her songs the way my heart felt them. "

In 1966, the contract with Columbia Records expired, and then the producer of the Atlantic Records label Jerry Wexler lured Aretha Franklin to himself. Thanks to his insight, the singer began to perform soul again.

Wexler had high hopes for the young star, planning to record several blues records at the Music Emporium studio. It was proposed to complement the rich vocals of Aretha with the music of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Kissy Houston. However, life again decided differently.

Aretha Franklin's song "What I Did For Love"

During one of the studio sessions, then-husband Franklin and concurrently her manager Ted White started a drunken fight with one of the musicians. This forced Wexler to close the studio door in front of the singer. The only song that was completed was I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You).

Unexpectedly for Areta, she became a hit. This convinced the girl to finish the album by all means. In 1967 the disc was ready. It climbed to number two on the national chart and topped the list of the best black albums. Finally, there was a breakthrough in the biography of the Queen of Soul.

Aretha Franklin's song "I Say A Little Prayer"

From 1966 to 1970, she released ten more records, including Lady Soul in 1968. Then, in 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked this album at # 84 on the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.

The song Respect, the first performer of which was Otis Redding, became a bright hit. The song became the unofficial anthem of the feminist movement, and Aretha herself became the face of black women. Also, the composition brought Franklin the first Grammy awards - for the best recording and the best female vocal in the genre of rhythm and blues.