Aretha Franklin

Born Mar 25, 1942

Aretha Louise Franklin is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Although known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Franklin is also adept at jazz, blues, R&B, gospel music, and rock. Rolling Stone magazine ranked her atop its "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" list, as well as the ninth greatest artist of all time. She has won 18 competitive Grammys and two honorary Grammys.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Aretha Franklin.


1942 Birth Born on March 25, 1942.
1948 6 Years Old Franklin's parents had a troubled marriage due to stories of C. L. Franklin's philandering and in 1948, they separated, with Barbara relocating back to Buffalo with her son, Vaughn, from a previous relationship.
1952 10 Years Old Contrary to popular notion, Franklin's mother did not abandon her children; not only would Franklin recall seeing her mother in Buffalo during the summer, Barbara also frequently visited her children in Detroit. Franklin's mother died on March 7, 1952, before Franklin's tenth birthday. … Read More


1956 14 Years Old He helped his daughter get signed to her first recording deal with J.V.B. Records, where her first album, Songs of Faith, was issued in 1956. … Read More
1960 18 Years Old 1 More Event
Serving as her manager, C. L. agreed to the move and helped to produce a two-song demo that soon was brought to the attention of Columbia Records, who agreed to sign her in 1960. … Read More
In January 1961, Columbia issued Franklin's first secular album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo. … Read More


1962 - 1965 3 More Events
1967 25 Years Old 1 More Event
In January 1967, choosing not to renew her Columbia contract after six years with the company, Franklin signed to Atlantic Records. … Read More
In 1968, she issued the top-selling albums, Lady Soul and Aretha Now, which included some of Franklin's most popular hit singles including "Chain of Fools", "Ain't No Way", "Think" and "I Say a Little Prayer".
1969 27 Years Old After a contentious marriage that involved domestic violence, she divorced White in 1969.
1971 29 Years Old In 1971, Franklin became the first R&B performer to headline Fillmore West, later recording the live album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West. … Read More


1975 - 1978 3 More Events
1979 37 Years Old Franklin's follow-up albums for Atlantic including Sweet Passion, Almighty Fire and La Diva bombed on the charts and in 1979, Franklin opted to leave the company.
1980 38 Years Old 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. … Read More
1981 39 Years Old The follow-up, 1981's Love All the Hurt Away, included her famed duet of the title track with George Benson while the album also included her Grammy-winning cover of Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'". … Read More


1982 - 1987 3 More Events
1988 46 Years Old Franklin and Wilkerson had had two previous engagements stretching back to 1988.
1989 47 Years Old Franklin's sisters Erma and Carolyn were professional musicians as well and spent years performing background vocals on Franklin's recordings. Following Franklin's divorce from Ted White, her brother Cecil became her manager, and maintained that position until his death from lung cancer on December 26, 1989. … Read More
1991 49 Years Old 1 More Event
Franklin's 1991 album, What You See is What You Sweat, flopped on the charts.


1993 51 Years Old Franklin returned to the charts in 1993 with the dance song "A Deeper Love" and returned to the top 40 with the song "Willing to Forgive" in 1994.
1994 52 Years Old Franklin was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. … Read More
1998 56 Years Old 1 More Event
…  In 1998, Franklin won international acclaim for singing the opera aria "Nessun dorma", at the Grammys of that year replacing Luciano Pavarotti. … Read More


2002 - 2008 5 More Events
2010 68 Years Old 1 More Event
In 2010, Franklin accepted an honorary degree from Yale University. … Read More
Following news of Franklin's surgery and recovery in February 2011, the Grammys ceremony paid tribute to the singer with a medley of her classics performed by Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, and Yolanda Adams. … Read More
2012 70 Years Old Franklin eventually called the 2012 engagement off.
In May 2013, Franklin canceled two performances to deal with an undisclosed medical treatment. … Read More
As of 2014, Franklin is now signed under RCA Records, controller of the Arista catalog and a sister label to Columbia via Sony Music Entertainment, and is currently working again with Clive Davis. … Read More
2015 73 Years Old 1 More Event
In December 2015 Franklin gave an acclaimed performance of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors during the section for honoree Carole King, who co-wrote the song. … Read More
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