Everything you need to know about Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin’s Full Name

What is her full name?

Aretha Franklin’s full name was Aretha Louise Franklin, the name ‘Aretha’ means beauty and virtue, two qualities that certainly applied to the famous soul singer.

Aretha Franklin’s Age

What is her age?

Aretha Franklin was born on the 25th of March 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee and she passed away from pancreatic cancer on the 16th of August 2018, at the age of 76. The singer passed away with no will and her estate has been the subject of family disputes ever since.

Aretha Franklin’s Family

Who is her family?

The singer was the daughter of Barbara and Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, her father was a Baptist minister and circuit preacher and her mother was a pianist and singer. She had a number of half-siblings from her parent’s prior relationships as well as three siblings from her parent’s relationship. When Aretha was aged two her family relocated to Buffalo, New York before later moving to Detroit.

Her parents’ relationship was strained by Clarence’s infidelity and they eventually separated in 1948. Barbara left the family and returned to Buffalo and Aretha would see her during the summer or during her mother’s visits to Detroit.  Her mother passed away from a heart attack in 1952. Franklin went on to learn piano by ear and attended school in Detroit, eventually dropping out during her sophomore year.

Her father was highly successful on the Church-circuit, earning celebrity status for his powerful sermons and gaining a number of famous friends including Martin Luther King Jr., Sam Cooke and Clara Ward. Ward became romantically involved with Aretha’s father until her death in 1973.

Aretha Franklin’s home

Where does she live?

Aretha Franklin had a number of estates, one of which included a Michigan home which is currently on the market for $1.2 million. The home is located in the gated community of Bloomfield Hills, close to Detroit and is set across 4,148 square feet.

Aretha Franklin’s height and weight

What is her height and weight?

The singer stood at approximately 165 cm’s tall, and was famously quite robust for many years of her career. She struggled with weight throughout her life and had transformed in the later years of her life, dropping a dramatic amount of weight. At the time of her death she weighed barely 40 kilos, as shed had been very ill with pancreatic cancer.

Aretha Franklin’s religion

What religion does she follow?

Aretha Franklin was famous for being a soul and gospel singer and the Christian faith always played an important role in her 62-year career.

The singer was a lifelong Baptist who first began her career singing in her father’s gospel revue. She recorded her first song at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

The singer even recorded a best-selling gospel album titled ‘Amazing Grace’ and famously sung ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ at the funeral of Mahalia Jackson.

Aretha Franklin’s fame

What is she famous for?

Aretha Franklin is best known as the ‘Queen of Soul’. She is famous for being an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist and civil rights activist. She began her career singing gospel but later embarked on a secular-music career. Over the course of her career the singer recorded 112 singles which reached the charts, including 20 number one R&B singles. She went on to become one of the best-selling singers in history, with more than 75 million records sold across the globe. Highly accomplished, she won many awards throughout her career including the National Medal of Arts and Presidential Medal of Freedom. She became the first female performed to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and was ranked amongst the ‘100 Greatest Singers of All Time’ by the Rolling Stones. She was also awarded a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize jury for her contributions to American music and culture.

Aretha Franklin’s early career

How did her career start?

Her career first began at a young age when she started to sing solos at New Bethel church. Her father became her manager at the age of twelve and would bring her along during his gospel tour to perform in churches around the country. He helped her to sign her first record deal with J.V.B Records. She recorded her first record at the New Bethel Baptist Church and her first single was released in 1956 as part of her ‘Spirituals’ album. Around this time she would also travel with The Soul Stirrers and at the age of 16 she toured with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she later sung at his funeral.

At the age of 18 the singer set her sights on moving to New York to pursue a pop music career, her father assisted by helping her to record a two-song demo and she was signed by Columbia Records. The singer’s first Columbia single ‘Today I Sing the Blues’ was released in 1960 and reached the top ten on the rhythm and blues charts.

The singers first secular album ‘Aretha: With the Ray Bryant Combo’ was released in 1961. The album included her first single to reach the Billboard Hot 100 charts, ‘Won’t Be Long’. A further two albums were released in 1962, ‘The Electrifying Aretha Franklin’ and ‘The Tender, Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin’. During a performance at Regal Theater she was dubbed for the first time ‘the Queen of Soul’. By the mid-1960s the singer was making $100,000 a year for performances, but was struggling to achieve mainstream success.

Aretha Franklin’s career breakthrough

What was her career breakthrough?

In 1966 the singers contract expired with Columbia Records and she chose to move to Atlantic Records. She recorded the song ‘I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You’ and it went to number one on the R&B charts and number nine on the Hot 100 charts the following month. It was also the year that she released her rendition of the Otis Redding song ‘Respect’, the song went on to become her signature song and was often hailed as a feminist anthem.

Her debut Atlantic album was a commercial success and she scored two top ten singles in 1967 with ‘Baby I Love You’ and ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’.

She released two top-selling albums in 1968, ‘Lady Soul’ and ‘Aretha Now’ and earned two Grammys that same year. Her success continued to grow in the 1970s with hit songs like ‘Don’t Play That Song (You Lied’ and ‘Rock Steady’. The singer returned to her Gospel sound with the album ‘Amazing Grace’ which sold two million copies. The singer began to experience a career downturn with her 1975 album which bombed and was followed by a number of other unsuccessful albums.

Aretha Franklin’s continued career success

What has she done since her career breakthrough?

The singer began the 1980s with a new label, signing with Arista Records. She gave a commanding performed at Royal Albert Hall in front of Queen Elizabeth and appeared in the musical film ‘The Blues Brothers’. Her first Arista album ‘Aretha’ was successful and its follow ‘Jump to It’ was her first in seven years to achieve Gold status. Her 1985 album ‘Who’s Zoomin’ Who?’ was her first Arista album to receive platinum certification.

In 1987 the singer issues another gospel album ‘One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism’ which was recorded at New Bethel Church. Whilst her 1991 album ‘What you see is what you sweat’ was not successful, 1998’s ‘A Rose Is Still A Rose’ sold more than 500,000 copies. In the same year she received worldwide praise for her 1998 Grammy performance. Her last Arista album was 2003’s ‘So Damn Happy’ before she announced that she would leave the label.

In 2009 the singer made headlines for her performance at Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony. In 2011 she released the album ‘Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love’ under her own label. She signed with RCA records in 2014 and released a classic album later that year.

She gave a highly acclaimed performance of her song ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ in 2015 at the Kennedy Center Honors where she received a standing ovation. She released an album ‘Brand New Me’ in November 2017; it reached number two on the classical charts after her death.

Her final concert was at the Ravinia Festival in 2017 and her final performance was during Elton John 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS foundation.

Aretha Franklin’s net worth

What is her net worth?

The singer had a reported net worth of $80 million at the time of her death, and left behind no will for her estate.

Aretha Franklin’s personal life

Who has she been married to?

The singer was married twice. She married her first husband, Ted White in 1961 at the age of 19. Their marriage was contentious and they divorced in 1969. She married her second husband Glynn Turman in 1978. The couple separated in 1982 and divorced in 1984. The singer later became engaged to Willie Wilkerson, but the couple never married.

The singer had four sons, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first at the age of 12. Her second son was born only two years later. The children were raised by her Grandmother and sister. Her third child was born to her husband Ted White and her youngest was born in 1970, the son of road manager Ken Cunningham.