The Queen of Soul turns 74 today.
Aretha Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tenn., but spent most of her childhood in Detroit. Though she never recorded for Motown, she undeniably was part of the legendary soul sound pumping out of the Motor City in the 1960s.
Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a nationally renown preacher operating out of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. Recordings of his sermons were released on record, and a young Aretha toured with her father’s traveling revival show. In 1960, she signed with Columbia Records. But it wasn’t until she left for Atlantic Records in 1967 that her career really took off.
Aretha wasn’t the only soul chanteuse in her family. Her sisters Carolyn Franklin andErma Franklin also had record deals and laid down some incredible cuts. But neither came close to achieving the success or fame of their sister.
In 1987, Franklin became the first female solo artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s been awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, as well as 18 Grammys.
“I Say a Little Prayer”
One of her most beloved songs, this Top 10 hit was written by Burt Bachrach and Hal David. The slow, jazzy song is punctuated by Aretha’s breathtaking, soaring vocals that showcase her gospel chops. The song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, but as the Queen of Soul would do time and time again in her career, she made the song hers.
“Baby, I Love You”
A funky, sultry number that was a huge hit for Aretha in 1967, even if it doesn’t get the notoriety of “Respect” or “Chain of Fools.” This song was the only single released off the LP “Aretha Arrives,” peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard charts and No. 1 for two weeks on the R&B charts. Aretha had “arrived” indeed.
“I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)”
This is arguably the song that catapulted Aretha from ballad singer to soul-belting legend, as it was the first big hit of her career. It would top the R&B charts at No. 1 and crossed over to hit No. 9 on the pop charts. Watch the sheer power in this live clip from 1968, in which the Queen lies undisputed claim to her throne
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