Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and civil rights activist. She was known as the "Queen of Soul" and was widely regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin began singing gospel music in her father's church and recorded her first album in 1956. She achieved commercial success with her 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, which was the first of many albums that would become classics. Franklin's hits included "Respect," "Chain of Fools," "Think," and "I Say a Little Prayer." She won 18 Grammy Awards and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Franklin was an activist for civil rights and women's rights, performing at benefits for Martin Luther King Jr. and supporting the NAACP. She also helped to raise funds for the Freedom Summer campaign and the March on Washington. She was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and supported the feminist movement.
Franklin was a prolific songwriter, penning many of her own hits, including "Natural Woman," "Call Me," and "Rock Steady." She was also noted for her powerful stage presence and ability to move audiences. In addition to her music career, Franklin appeared in several films and television shows.
Franklin's influence on music and culture continues to be felt today. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009 and was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2019. Her songs have been covered by many artists, from Adele to Alicia Keys to Aretha Franklin's own daughter, Victorie.
Aretha Franklin was an unparalleled singer, songwriter, and activist who left an indelible mark on the world. Her legacy will live on in her timeless music and her commitment to civil rights and social justice.