Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Has Died at Age 76

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Has Died at Age 76

And Aretha is a gift from God", Rolling Stone magazine wrote, in naming her the greatest singer of all time. "When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her.

"I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now", Franklin told a Detroit television interviewer in 2017.

The celebrated soul singer had suffered various health problems over the years.

Celebrities and prominent figures paid tribute to Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul", who died Thursday after grappling with serious illness. The raw emotion of her singing made more-polished R&B - including some of Motown Records' output - seem slightly less authentic. Franklin's love of music began when she started singing in her father's church on Sundays, according to the Detroit Historical Society, and when she was 17 her grandmother brought her to NY to pursue her singing ambitions. As a young singer, Franklin fluidly incorporated blues, jazz, and R&B into her music.

In his controversial 2014 biography of Franklin, "Respect", noted writer David Ritz alleged the Queen of Soul was notorious on the entertainment circuit for cancelling concerts at the last minute, showing up late for performances and belittling contemporaries in the industry, as well as starting feuds with members of her own family.

Throughout her later career, Franklin suffered accusations she was a diva to deal with. "Gospel is a constant with me". Five of her songs are in the Grammy Hall of Fame. For 50 years she was the Queen of Soul, a title shell hold in perpetuity.

Memphis-born and Detroit-raised, Franklin grew up belting gospel in church, where her father was a renowned Baptist minister and her mentor was Mahalia Jackson.

But never did her divadom stop her from stopping every show, regardless of the company. Carole King sent her love, respect and gratitude, and Shonda Rhimes tweeted a simple "Aretha".

The undisputed "Queen of Soul" was the victor of 18 Grammy awards, the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is one of the best-selling music artists of her time. They would divorce in 1984. Aretha would marry a second time, to Glynn Turman, in 1978.

As Franklin transitioned into "diva mode", she became famous (and infamous) for fantastic performances mixed with health scares.

She was honored for "her lifetime of achieving and for helping to shape our nation's artistic and cultural heritage", the ceremony's announcer said before Bush presented her with the award.

Franklin sang at the funeral of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and at the presidential inaugurations of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

He told BBC Radio 4 the reason he would take her music to a desert island, over and above nearly anyone else's, was because "she'll remind me of my humanity, what's essential in all of us".

"If a song's about something I've experienced or that could've happened to me, it's good. Please. No, that's not moi". Clad in a full-length mink coat, Franklin's performance drew a standing ovation and tears from the president, as the audience was moved to its core by Franklin's still-powerful vocals.

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