Aretha Louise Fanklin, the “Queen of Soul,” passed away early Thursday morning. We’d been reading reports of her failing health and at times good spirits and hopes for a recovery, but – as some news reports also noted – she was apparently “at peace with her journey” before dying in her Detroit area home. She was 76.
She was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis and revealed her powerful voice while singing at church during her childhood years in Detroit, where her father was the minister. She began her singing career at age 18 in 1960 but didn’t really break through until she signed with Atlantic Records in 1967. Hits like “Respect,” “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Spanish Harlem” got her the moniker “Queen of Soul.” She had more hits in the 1980s, with “Freeway of Love,” “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”, a cover of “Jumping Jack Flash” for the movie release, and a #1 duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”, just further cemented her legacy. She totaled 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 that made the Hot 100 and 17 in the Top 10. She also had 20 number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history, and won a total of 18 Grammy awards.
Franklin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the first female performer to do so. In 2005, she was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame and then into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
In 1980, during what had been a bit of lull in her career (1979’s La Diva was not considered one of her better albums), Aretha performed her song “Think” in the movie The Blues Brothers, while portraying a role as the owner of a soul food diner on Chicago’s Maxwell Street. Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate her life with some of her acting as well as her voice by enjoying these two clips.
RIP Aretha, you will always be the Queen of Soul!