Aretha Franklin was universally acclaimed as the Queen of Soul and one of America’s greatest singers. The singer was born in 1942 in Memphis Tennessee, and her musical gifts became apparent at an early age. Largely self-taught, Aretha was regarded as a child prodigy. She first got to demonstrate her piano skills and powerful voice in front of her father’s congregation in church.
At the age of 12, Franklin began traveling with her father during his “gospel caravan” tours across the country. Inspired by her idol Sam Cooke, she decided to pursue a career in pop music and subsequently signed a deal with Columbia records in 1960. As you probably know, this was the start of a grandly celebrated career. Franklin received 18 Grammy Awards. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and she sang at the inauguration of Barack Obama 2009 and at both the Democratic National Convention and a memorial service for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Aretha Franklin is remembered for her incredible versatility and talent, and as a singer who defined her time. Here are just 16 essential songs from this great musician.
Cover Image Source: Flickr