Legendary singer Aretha Franklin dead at 76

Sergio Cunningham
August 17, 2018

Franklin on Monday had told a reporter with Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV that she was resting and surrounded by family and friends. She blessed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s memorial service in 1968 with her sweet, soulful voice and almost two decades later became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here she is in the studio with Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox recording Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves in 1985.

"Among her countless hits were the soul classics, "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", and "Think". Her "Queen of Soul" moniker followed shortly after her initial commercial success.

And while Franklin enjoyed her reign at the top of the charts during the late 1960s and early 1970s, she never forgot her gospel roots. She won a Grammy for her 1972 gospel album "Amazing Grace".

Aretha Franklin attends the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 30, 2016 in Washington. "Gospel is a constant with me". The musical Icon was much more than friendly face in a sea of "big industry " counterfeits; in the late 60s, Aretha became an important proponent of mainstream civil rights groups within the movement. President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2005. She scored on the charts again in 1998 with the title track from her album A Rose Is Still a Rose, and in 2014, her cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" brought her a new generation of fans. I adored her and worshipped her talent.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin was only 12 when she gave birth to her first child.

Franklin emerged from the multiple paths that had already been forged by Holiday, Nina Simone, and Mahalia Jackson: Like Sam Cooke (who was a family friend), she melded Gospel with pop music so seamlessly that now it's hard to think there was ever a time when the two ran on parallel, if often criss-crossing, paths.

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She was a hit from an early age, leaving home at 18 with the support of her father to sign a recording deal with Columbia Records, a company she chose over RCA and hometown label Motown. The mother of four sons, she had her first child in 1955 and her second in 1957. Franklin's father ended up in a coma after being shot twice at his home and died five years later in 1984. She has been secretive about her health issues, which have included periods out of the spotlight and at least one surgery.

Beyonce is clearly keen to patch things up with Franklin after they fell out after the 2008 Grammy Awards when Bey introduced Tina Turner as The Queen of Soul, only mentioning legendary Franklin in passing.

In the past few years, she regularly cited doctor's orders for cancelling notable concerts, including a Canada Day show in Toronto on the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and several New Jersey gigs, such as the one to mark her 76th birthday in March.

"I only had three hours sleep that night", she told talk show host Rachael Ray in a subsequent interview. "I'm not going anywhere. Please. No, that's not moi".

But in 2013 when Bey was criticised for lip-syncing at President Obama's inauguration, Franklin came to the singer's defence.

Obama added, "American history wells up when Aretha sings".

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