Aretha Franklin Biography

Aretha Franklin

Claim to Fame: American singer, songwriter, and pianist
DOB: March 25, 1942
Diabetes Type: Type 2

Fondly known as the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin is an American musical and cultural icon. To list off her achievements is to chronicle a career that has successfully withstood the changing trends within the musical industry, reinvented itself repeatedly, and inspired countless future performers. Rolling Stone magazine has Aretha Franklin ranked at the top of its list of the “Greatest Singers of All Time.” She has won eighteen competitive Grammy Awards, including two honorary awards for “Lifetime Achievement” and “Living Legend.” She has two No.1 hits on Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100 list “and, since 1961, has achieved a total of forty-five “Top 40” hits. In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Born in Memphis in 1942, Aretha is one of six children. The family moved often, leaving Memphis for Buffalo and then for Detroit, all before her fifth birthday. Shortly after settling in Detroit, Franklin’s parents split. Her father was a Baptist minister and, due to his obligations to his church, often left young Aretha with her grandmother. At the age of ten, Aretha learned that her mother had died in Buffalo. She turned to her faith and was able to find an outlet for her grief through choir and gospel music.

By 1960 Aretha had obtained a record contract with Columbia to release her first single. The single reached number 10 on Billboard’s R&B chart and her first album was released in January of 1961. In the late 60s, despite her initial success with Columbia, Franklin decided to sign with Atlantic Records. In 1967, she released her first blues song, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You).” The song marked a transition into more gospel-based music, which is where Franklin’s background and passions originated. Franklin’s second single released by Atlantic Records was “Respect,” which would immediately become Franklin’s best-known and most commercially successful song. Along with “Respect,” Franklin released “Baby, I Love You,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Chain of Fools,” propelling her to superstardom over a short span of time.

Toward the end of the 60s and into the 70s, Franklin released “Think,” “Ain’t No Way.” and “The House That Jack Built,” songs that gave permanence to her title of “Queen of Soul.” Franklin’s music spoke to the cultural changes of the time, becoming anthems for the civil rights and feminist movements. Over the course of the 70s, Franklin fell out of public view when she separated with Atlantic Records and returned to Detroit to help her father, who was in a coma and suffering from complications resulting from a gunshot wound.

Franklin appeared sporadically throughout the 80s, appearing in films like The Blues Brothers and with other artists on collaborative works. However, throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Aretha created numerous singles that appeared on film soundtracks and often won her great praise. In 2008, Aretha won the title of MusiCares’ “Person of the Year,” prior to winning her eighteenth Grammy Award. Outside of awards and titles bestowed upon her by her contemporaries and those within the musical industry, Franklin has enjoyed a close friendship with President Barack Obama, who asked her to perform at his inauguration in 2008. In 2010, Franklin was awarded an honorary music degree by Yale University, another testament to her powerful career.

Find more famous musicians with diabetes.

1 — Bernstein, Richard K. (2005.) "The diabetes diet: Dr. Bernstein's low-carbohydrate solution." Little, Brown & Company.
2 – Biography. Aretha Franklin. (Accessed 10/24/11.)
3 – Lagacy Recordings. Aretha Franklin. (Accessed 10/24/11.)
4 – The New York Times. Pop Review; Soaring on Passion, Rooted in Gospal. (Accessed 10/25/11.)

Last Modified Date: January 17, 2013

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