Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has passed away at the age of 76. The iconic singer was an American legend, whose powerful voice provided the soundtrack to so many great moments. In the wake of her passing, those whose lives she touched with her art are remembering her influence and her accomplishments.
Franklin was born in Memphis and raised in Detroit. Like many of her contemporaries, Franklin began singing in church. She chose to follow Sam Cooke into the secular pop music world and signed with Columbia Records when she was only 18 years old. She released her first single on Columbia in 1960.
In 1967, her career skyrocketed with a series of singles and albums on Atlantic Records. She seemed unstoppable. From then, on she continued recording until 2014, when she released Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics. Proving that she was never out of touch, she scored a hit with a cover of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," which hit No. 47 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Scroll on for a look at Franklin's life and career through photos.
Photo Credit: Leon Morris/Redferns/Getty Images
Aretha Franklin: Piano Player
Although Franklin is best known for her voice, she was also a skilled pianist. According to Goldmine, some who knew Franklin considered her a "child prodigy" behind the keys. Smokey Robinson, who grew up in Detroit with Franklin, said when Franklin played the piano, it felt like a full orchestra was behind her.prevnext
Aretha Franklin in 1967
A major turning point for Franklin came in 1967. She was on a new record label and released a string of singles she remains best known for. Her recordings of "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman," "Chain of Fools" and "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" all came out that year.prevnext
In November 2016, Franklin performed the Star Spangled Banner before a Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings game at Ford Field. Franklin's performance took so long that it sparked some complaints on Twitter. Others said she could take as long as she wants. She's Aretha Franklin, after all. She also performed the National Anthem before Super Bowl XL at Ford Field.prevnext
Her Most Recent Performance
In November 2017, Franklin performed at Elton John's annual AIDS Foundation benefit in New York City. It was her most recent performance. Her final show for the public was in August 2017 in Philadelphia. Franklin had four shows scheduled between March and June this year, but the shows were canceled.prevnext
The Presidential Medal of Freedom
Franklin has received countless awards during her career, but none as important as the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the highest civilian honor an American can receive. President George W. Bush presented Franklin with her medal in 2005.prevnext
At President Obama's Inauguration
President Barack Obama played a role in two incredible moments from Franklin's late career. In 2009, she sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at Obama's first inauguration. It may have been cold that day, but the Queen of Soul did not seem to mind.prevnext
The 2015 Kennedy Center Honors
At the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, President Obama famously teared up when Franklin performed "(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman" in honor of the song's co-writer, Carole King. Franklin started singing behind a piano, but later got up and threw off the big coat she was wearing as she hit those high notes.
"I’m not sure why, but I sure enjoyed it. I loved the response from the audience and everyone who has been calling and texting. I’m just very happy about it," Franklin said of the performance in a 2016 Vogue interview.prevnext
Franklin's signature song is "Respect," which was first written and recorded by Otis Redding in 1965. Redding's original recording could not be further from Franklin's.
Their performances give the song two different meanings, even though Franklin did not change much of the lyrics. The only addition is the gamous "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" hook. The saxophone party by King Curtis was also the invention of producer Jerry Wexler. Suddenly, Redding's R&B classic became a feminist anthem.prevnext
Franklin performed with many musicians during her career, including the late Ray Charles. This photo was taken in January 1973, when the two music legends performed for a TV special in honor of Duke Ellington.prevnext
Franklin has 18 Grammy Awards. She won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance every year from 1968 to 1975. She won her most recent Grammy in 2008 for her Gospel singles, "Blessed & Highly Favored" and "Never Gonna Break My Faith."
Franklin also has three special Grammy Awards, winning the Legend Award in 1991 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. In 2008, she was named the MusiCares Person of the Year.prev