Aretha Franklin is a singer, songwriter and pianist that was born March 25, 1942 in a two-room home in Memphis, Tennessee. The third of four children to her immediate parents, Franklin moved Buffalo when she was two years old and later settled in Detroit. Her mother died in Buffalo when she was only ten years old.
Franklin began to sing in church when she was younger and learned how to play piano by ear. By the age of 13, Franklin played and sang regular solo’s in her father’s church. She grew up in a home of gospel music as her father was a well-known preacher who often had prominent musicians visiting his home. Women like Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, and Albertina Walker were present in Franklin’s house and served as her inspiration to push towards a musical career. All of these women served as major influences in Franklin’s life and in her vocal development.
In 1961, she released her first album and would reach stardom in the late 1960s with the release of her famed hits, “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools”. She also became a leady lady of the civil-rights movement and women’s right with her song “Respect” which was revered highly by feminists. Today, Franklin is often referred to as the “Queen of Soul” and she most recently received an honorary doctorate degree in music from Yale University. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Franklin is acclaimed as one of the greatest singers of all time.