Aretha Franklin who has been nicknamed the queen of soul has passed on today. The 76 year old singer who died today was a sensational once in a lifetime singer. She died having lost the battle to pancreatic cancer in her home in Detroit.
Aretha Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis Tennessee. She was born to the family of the Baptist minister Cl Franklin and Barbara who was an accomplished gospel minister and singer.
When Aretha attained the age of 6, her family had to move to Detroit and there she began learning the piano and also started attending vocal lessons. At that age also, she had started to sing in the choir in her father’s church and she had a very beautiful voice.
Due to the several infidelities of her father, her mother had to get a divorce and leave the marriage marking the end of her parent’s marriage. Her mother left the marriage and later moved to buffalo in New york and she eventually passed away at the age of 34years due to cardiac arrest.
Her father meanwhile became a respected figure of the black community in Detroit and his church became a very large centre for gospel music. After her mother died, Aretha came in contact with so many musicians who were legends in their time, among them were Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson.
She began to sing and record her songs at the very tender age of 14 and at this time Aretha gave birth to her first son who she named Clarence. When she was 16, she gave birth to her second son named Edward. Afterwards she gave her grandmother her boys to raise while she continued with her musical career.
When she became very good in her singing career and had a very wide audience, one of the renowned musicians she had met while growing up who was also her producer named Berry Gordy tried to recruit her into his record label and sign her own to become the youngest in his crew named Mowtown Record Label. But then her father turned down the offer claiming she was too young to go fully into the music world.
When she grew up and became a little bit matured, she had been spotted by one of the members of Columbia Talents scouts and that was her stepping stone into the world of RnB. She entered the RnB charts with a record breaker song titled “Today I sing Blues”.
While she was with the Colombia scouts, she had two further RnB bits and she managed to enter the mainstream of the US top 40 once with a dixie melody and Rock-a-bye your baby. She left Colombia because they had failed to exploit the fact that she was a gospel singer with a good voice and when they became so insistent that she joins a girl group and record a group style pop, Aretha left the record label and joined Atlantic Records in 1966.
Her first record song at Atlantic Records was “I never loved a man the way I loved you” and this proved to be her breakthrough and brought her to the limelight. The song when released quickly attained heights and jumped to the top spot on the rhythm and blues chart and it also hit the 9th spot on the pop charts. Her second song which she did at Atlantic Records also quickly attained fame and became her best known song. She was backed up by her sisters Carolyn and Erma and the song eventually became a national anthem for the feminists in the US. This song also won 2 Grammy awards and was nominated for several other awards alike.
Eventually, Aretha became an icon and a force to reckon with for the US civil rights movement. She was nicknamed “lady soul” and was given awards by Martin Luther king. She also became the only second African-American woman to appear on the cover of the Time magazine.
She began climbing and attaining heights in the music industry and winning several awards. Hits such as Don’t play that song, call me, Spanish Harlem, and bridge over troubled waters made the charts and quickly rose up to top spots.
In 1974, her father was shot during a burglary attack in his Detroit home and this apparently caused him to be in coma till his death in 1984. Eventually, Aretha started to take alcohol and developed a severe drinking problem and in 1969, she was arrested for having a disorderly conduct.
Her behaviour later became a cause for concern and eventually had to cut her tour short because she suddenly developed a severe phobia for flying.
She eventually returned back to the gospel world after releasing several albums that hit the charts. Unfortunately, she didn’t make waves in the gospel industry just like she did while singing pop music. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame and she received a Grammy award for a lifetime achievement in 1994.
Eventually she reached a stagnant point in her career and in 2003, Aretha set up her own labels which she called Aretha Record label but then she never released any song on it. During the inauguration of the first black president ever Barack Obama, she sang “My song, ’tis of thee”.
In 2011 however, she began having health issues and had to cancel most of her concerts. In 2013 however, she returned back to the stage with a performance in Detroit.
Her family released in a press conference announcing her death and said through their publicity representative that “it is with a deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing away of Aretha Louise Franklin. Aretha passed away on Thursday August 16 at Pam in her home in detroit. She was surrounded by her family and loved ones”. They released her official cause of death as advanced pancreatic cancer which had a neuroendocrine origin.
She is survived by her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and siblings. Meanwhile great songwriters, composers and musicians have all troopers to her Twitter account to pay their respects and also write tributes to the late icon.
Musicians such as John legend, Missy Elliot, Christina Aguilera, Elton John, Dianna Ross, Cariole king and many others have all paid their tributes and they all had really great things to say to her. Indeed, an Icon has passed away from the musical world.
Well as the world says goodbye to Aretha, we would love to say “Rest in peace Queen of soul. We would greatly miss you”.