Here’s a look at the life of the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin.
Birth date: March 25, 1942
Death date: August 16, 2018
Birth place: Memphis, Tennessee
Birth name: Aretha Louise Franklin
Father: Rev. C. L. (Clarence LaVaughn) Franklin, minister and gospel singer
Mother: Barbara (Siggers) Franklin, gospel singer
Marriages: Glynn Turman (April 11, 1978-1984, divorced), Ted White (1961-1969, divorced)
Children: with Ken Cunningham: Kecalf; with Ted White: Theodore; with father’s name not available publicly: Edward and Clarence
Had a four-octave vocal range.
Was a self-taught pianist, who learned without knowing how to read music.
Her father was shot by burglars in 1979 and remained in a coma until his death in 1984. Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at his funeral.
Claimed reports of her mother abandoning the family in 1948 were not true. The Franklins separated and the children lived with Rev. Franklin, spending summers with their mother until Mrs. Franklin died in 1952.
Due to an in-flight turbulence incident in 1982, she had an extreme fear of flying.
Was nominated for 44 Grammy awards and won 18. Franklin also won three special Grammy awards.
A high school dropout, she had two honorary doctorates of music, from Berklee College of Music and Yale University.
In addition to receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame and the Apollo Theater Legends Walk of Fame.
1956 - A gospel album entitled “Spirituals” is released by a small label called J.V.B. It is Franklin’s first recording. The album is later re-released as “Songs of Faith: The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin.”
1960 - Signs with Columbia Records.
1967 - Her first number one single, “Respect” is released, along with the hits “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Baby I Love You.”
1968 - Wins her first two Grammy awards for “Respect.”
April 9, 1968 - Sings “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” at the memorial service of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 19, 1977 - Performs “God Bless America” at the inaugural concert of President Carter.
1982 - Wins Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for “Hold On I’m Comin’.”
1986 - Wins Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for “Freeway Of Love.”
1987 - Is the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1988 - Wins two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for “Aretha” and Best R&B Performance by a Duo, with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).”
1989 - Wins Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female for “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.”
1991 - Receives the Grammy Legend Award.
January 19, 1993 - Performs at the inaugural gala of President Clinton.
1994 - Receives the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
1997 - Performs an aria from Puccini’s “La Boheme” at the wedding of Vice President Al Gore’s daughter, Karenna.
February 25, 1998 - Substitutes for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammy Awards performing “Nessun Dorma” by Puccini, unrehearsed.
September 1999 - Her autobiography “Aretha: From These Roots,” is published.
September 29, 1999 - Is presented the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts.
2004 - Wins Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “Wonderful.”
November 9, 2005 - Is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.
2006 - After Franklin points out that no Motown talent was appearing in the Detroit Super Bowl halftime show, the NFL asks her to sing the national anthem along with Aaron Neville prior to the game.
February 8, 2006 - Wins Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “A House Is Not a Home.”
February 10, 2008 - Wins Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance for “Never Gonna Break My Faith,” shared with Mary J. Blige.
February 14, 2008 - Receives the NAACP Vanguard Award at the annual Image Awards ceremony.
January 20, 2009 - Performs “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the inauguration of President Obama.
February 2010 - A Snickers commercial starring Franklin and Liza Minnelli airs for the first time.
July 27, 2010 - Appears on stage in Philadelphia with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on piano to raise money for charity. Rice is a classical pianist. They perform individually and together, classical, pop and patriotic selections.
August 1, 2010 - Falls in her home, breaking some ribs. The incident forces her to cancel concert appearances in August.
May 3, 2011 - Releases her new album, “Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love.”
October 8, 2014 - Achieves a milestone in music history by becoming the first female to earn her 100th hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B song chart with “Rolling in the Deep (The Aretha Version).”
October 2014 - Releases a new album, “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics.”
March 2015 - Performs live on the Motown themed episode of American Idol in Detroit.
February 7, 2017 - Franklin announces she will retire from performing in concert after the release of one more album. “I am retiring this year,” she tells a local television station in Detroit. “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert.”
August 16, 2018 - Dies at her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement on behalf of Franklin’s family from her longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn.
May 20, 2019 - An attorney for Franklin’s estate says that three handwritten wills were discovered in her home. The latest one, dated March 2014, was found under cushions in the living room and appears to leave her assets to family members. A fourth will, drafted by a law firm, is discovered in 2019. On July 11, 2023, a jury determines the 2014 version of her will should stand as the document of record for the estate.