A struggle with pancreatic cancer that lasted eight years ultimately claimed the life of Aretha Franklin on August 16, 2018, at the age of 76. The soul legend pἀssed away in Detroit with her family and friends by her side.
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When Did Aretha Franklin Pἀss Away?
Aretha Franklin, whose full name is Aretha Louise Franklin, was an American singer who popularized 1960s soul music. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25, 1942, and pἀssed away in Detroit, Michigan, on August 16, 2018.
Hall of Fame singer, cultural icon, and civil rights activist who influenced countless vocalists succumbs to pancreatic canceɼ. Barbara, Franklin’s mother, was a gospel musician and singer. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a prominent clergyman in the country and served as the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan.
Her father was well known for his insightful lectures, many of which Chess Records recorded. He was also a vocalist. Franklin’s parents divorced when she was six years old, and she stayed in Detroit with her father. Aretha was 10 when her mother pἀssed away.
Franklin was hailed as a vocal prodigy when, as a young girl, she appeared with her father on his gospel programs in well-known locations across the nation. Her primary inspiration, Clara Ward of the illustrious Ward Singers, was a relative.
Albertina Walker and Jackie Verdell, two other legendary gospel singers of the era, influenced young Franklin’s style. The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin, her 1956 record, perfectly captures the fervor of her performances when she was just 14 years old.
With her father’s approval, Franklin made the transition from religious to secular music at the age of 18. She moved to New York City, where Columbia Records executive John Hammond, who had signed Count Basie and Billie Holiday, arranged her recording contract and supervised sessions highlighting her in a blues-jazz vein.
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From that first session, “Today I Sing the Blues” (1960) remains a classic. But, as her Detroit friends on the Motown label enjoyed hit after hit, Franklin struggled to achieve crossover success. Columbia placed her with a variety of producers who marketed her to both adults (“If Ever You Should Leave Me,” 1963) and teens (“Soulville,” 1964).
She performed a wide range of music, from youth-oriented rhythm and blues to Broadway ballads, without focusing on any specific genre. Critics acknowledged her skill, but until 1966, when she went to Atlantic Records, where producer Jerry Wexler allowed her to forge her own musical identity, the audience remained uninterested.
Franklin went back to her gospel-blues origins at Atlantic, and the results were phenomenal. Her first million-selling single was “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)” (1967), which was recorded at Fame Studios in Florence, Alabama.
Franklin developed a Ray Charles-inspired sound—a stirring fusion of gospel and rhythm and blues—and elevated it to new heights while surrounded by friendly musicians playing impromptu arrangements and creating the background vocals herself.
Franklin was dubbed the “Queen of Soul” as a civil rights-conscious society gave black urban music more backing. Otis Redding’s energetic song “Respect,” which she covered in 1967, became an anthem that addressed issues of race, sexuality, and personal respect.
Franklin penned “Think” (1968) herself, and it has multiple meanings. She developed into an unparalleled hitmaker over the course of the next six years; she was known as “Lady Soul.” She triumphed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in the early 1970s in front of a group of flower children and on quick tours of Europe and Latin America.
One of the greatest gospel albums of all time is Amazing Grace (1972), a live recording of her performance with a choir at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Franklin’s style was constrained by disco by the late 1970s, which also hurt her appeal.
But with assistance from musician-producer Luther Vandross, she was able to return to the top in 1982 with the help of a new label, Arista, and a new dance success, “Jump to It,” which was followed by “Freeway of Love” in 1985. Franklin was the first woman to be admitted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
NBC News posted their condolences on Twitter:
Aretha Franklin died nearly five years ago, but her last wishes remain the subject of a knotty legal fight. https://t.co/swHLwtoblh
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 11, 2023
She also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, a National Medal of Arts in 1999, and a Kennedy Center Honor in 1994. Franklin continued to hold the title of Queen of Soul despite the fact that her album sales in the 1990s and 2000s lagged behind those of earlier decades.
She captivated a crowd of more than a million in 2009 when she sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at Barack Obama’s inauguration, and she was equally as stunning in 2015 when she performed Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman)” at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. In 2018, a documentary about her recording of the 1972 album, Amazing Grace, debuted.
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