Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018
Aretha Frankin, who died Aug. 16, 2018, at the age of 76, was just 18 years old in 1960 (pictured) when she set out to become a professional singer. What followed was an unparalleled and legendary career that saw her crowned the Queen of Soul. Ahead, see photos from her time as one of the greatest voices ever.
Born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tenn., Franklin was the middle daughter of Barbara Siggers, a gospel singer who died when Aretha was only 9, and C.L. Franklin, a traveling preacher who settled down to become the socially progressive minister of Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church.
Though Franklin started out singing gospel music as a child, she began recording more pop music in 1964 and had a top 10 song on the R&B chart with “Runnin’ Out of Fools” in 1965.
On Nov. 21, 1966, Franklin (pictured with record producer Jerry Wexler and then-husband and manager Ted White) signed with Atlantic Records.
Aretha must have known she was on her way to becoming the Queen of Soul.
Franklin married her first husband, Ted White, in 1961 at age 19. They had one son, Ted White Jr., and divorced in 1969, following reports of domestic abuse.
Franklin performed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Benefit at Madison Square Garden in New York City on June 28, 1968. Other musical acts included the Rascals, Sam & Dave, Joe Tex, Sonny & Cher, and King Curtis & The Kingpins.
On May 4, 1969, Franklin was a guest on The Andy Williams Show.
Franklin posed backstage after winning a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance of “Share Your Love With Me.”
Aretha looked serious while posing with her father, Baptist preacher C.L. Franklin, and younger sister Carolyn.
During the first half of the ’70s, Franklin took home six Grammy Awards, just a fraction of her 18 career wins, and 44 total nominations.
April 11, 1978
The cameras caught Franklin sharing a kiss at her wedding to actor Glynn Turman, as her youngest son Kecalf Cunningham looked on. The lovebirds married at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
Circa 1979 with then-husband Glynn Turman and her son Kecalf
After Franklin left California and returned to Detroit to take care of her father, she and Turman separated and eventually divorced in 1984.
In 1980, Franklin parted ways with Atlantic Records and signed with Clive Davis’ Arista Records.
She also made a memorable appearance as a waitress in the The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
Aretha, her first Arista album and 29th studio ablum, featured the R&B hit “Unitied Together” as well as a Grammy-nominated cover of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose.”
Franklin entertained the crowd at the NBA All-Star Game celebration in Chicago on April 18, 1985.
The Queen of Soul teamed up with the King of Soul (a.k.a. James Brown) for an HBO special taped in Detroit on Jan. 11, 1987. That same year, she was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Producer-arranger Narada Michael Walden, Franklin, and Whitney Houston recorded “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Gonna Be Me” in 1989 in Detroit.
September 14, 1991
Franklin shared a laugh backstage with Oprah Winfrey at Radio City Music Hall in 1991.
February 24, 1992
In 1992, Franklin mingled with Donald Trump, Clive Davis, and Marla Maples at an Arista Records Grammy party.
February 26, 1997
The singer loved her fur coats, like the one she wore to the 39th Annual Grammy Awards in 1997.
February 25, 1998
Franklin shared a moment with the Blues Brothers — John Goodman, J.Evan Bonifant, Joe Morton, and Dan Aykroyd — after performing at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998.
April 14, 1998
Franklin sang with fellow diva Mariah Carey on Divas Live: An Honors Concert for VH1 Save the Music at New York City’s Beacon Theater.
President Bill Clinton presented Franklin with the National Medal of Arts in 1999, as first lady Hillary Clinton applauded.
Franklin was honored in 2001 at the VH1 Divas 2001: The One and Only Aretha Franklin tribute.
April 22, 2005
The singer donned a voluminous gown for a concert at the Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Fla.
June 5, 2005
Franklin performed a duet of “Somewhere” from West Side Story with Hugh Jackman at the 59th Annual Tony Awards in 2005.
In 2005, Franklin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. She also became the second woman inducted into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame.
January 20, 2009
Franklin delivered a rousing rendition of “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”)” during Barack Obama’s inauguration as 44th president of the United States in 2009.
July 25, 2012
Though she had a major fear of flying, Franklin still got around, traveling to destinations as far away as Los Angeles (where she’s seen performing here) on her custom bus.
April 12, 2013
Franklin brougth her amazing voice to Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto in 2013.
March 22, 2014
She celebrated her 72nd birthday with Clive Davis (and a piece of cake) in New York City.
May 21, 2014
Franklin received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from New York University in 2014.
May 29, 2015
Franklin posed for a family photo with son Kecalf and grandaughter Victorie while attending Chicago on Broadway.
December 9, 2015
Franklin belted out “I Will Survive (The Aretha Version)” on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
December 15, 2015
Franklin posed backstage with Jennifer Hudson after a Broadway performance of The Color Purple. Hudson is set to play the Queen of Soul in an upcoming biopic.
December 17, 2015
During the same trip to New York, Franklin attended the opening of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
April 19, 2017
Franklin took the stage at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Opening Gala premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives at Radio City Music Hall.
November 7, 2017
She also performed at an event celebrating Elton John and the 25th anniversary of his AIDS Foundation at New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.