Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Franklin, Aretha

The “Queen of Soul” was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1942.  Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was a minister and Aretha began singing on Sunday mornings at church.  Her family moved to Detroit, Michigan when her father became the minister at Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church.

When she was 17, Franklin’s grandmother volunteered to take care of Aretha’s two young sons so that she could pursue her singing in New York.  From there Aretha would come to have 20 number one R&B hits and be awarded more than 20 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.  Franklin has had many honors bestowed upon her, such as singing at President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and being the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.  For her song “Respect,” she received an honorary award from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Though her career continued to keep rising, Aretha Franklin’s personal life was somewhat troubled at times. Her marriage to Ted White ended in 1969 and her father was arrested for marijuana possession.  Even with those hardships, Franklin continued to thrive, winning Grammy Awards every year from 1969-1975.  In 1980, she even made a cameo appearance in the film, The Blues Brothers.”

In 1985 Aretha Franklin made a comeback with her album, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”  In 2008 she became MusiCares’ “Person of the Year” and she won her 21st Grammy at the 2008 50th Annual Grammy Awards.  She has four grown sons and was Godmother to singer Whitney Houston.



Album cover for Aretha Franklin's "Aretha's Gold", 1969

Aretha Franklin on the cover of Ebony Magazine, 1995

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