'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin dead at 76

Lewis Collier
August 16, 2018

Franklin's long time publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, spoke days before her death saying: "Aretha Franklin has been the Matriarch of the Franklin family since the passing of all of her siblings". Through gospel-influenced musical rearrangement, and her striking changes to melodic content, she effectively re-authored material written by others, asserting a sense of creative ownership through spirited and dynamic vocal performance.

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Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has passed away aged 76 following a period of "gravely ill" health.

At the first Divas Live concert in 1998: A golden wrap that outshone Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and any other singer VH1 dared put up on her stage. It's impossible to sum up a life like Aretha's but here are some vital facts to know.

Aretha Franklin was a daughter of Detroit, but D.C. loved her too. Her performance was phenomenal, and so were her earrings. Records, a small Detroit recording outfit, and later a contract with Columbia, where she made nine records under the guidance of legendary producer John Hammond. A year later, Aretha was released to the world.

"This isn't the first time Aretha had us all crying". She later released "Respect", which topped both charts and became her signature song. "And more in a general sense, from person-to-person — Im going to give you respect and Id like to have that respect back, or I expect respect to be given back".

Though her commercial popularity would wane in the 1980s, she continued to perform and record. During her stellar career, she garnered 44 Grammy Award nominations and won 18.

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She married again in 1978, to actor Glynn Turman, but they also divorced six years later.

He explained that she was the same age as his mother and that as a child of the 1960s he remembers her voice being the soundtrack of his childhood.

A cover of Dionne Warwick's I Say A Little Prayer had similar success later the same year.

Franklin was also recognized by more than one commanders in chief. Sadly, she would have to sing at Dr. King's funeral, performing "Precious Lord, Take My Hand". The Rolling Stones called her their favorite singer, and Dusty Springfield signed to Atlantic because of her. The performance would be one of several times Franklin sang before the Obamas, including the 2009 presidential inauguration and at the White House in 2015. "American history wells up when Aretha sings".

She performed in November at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in NY to a private audience.

Years in the limelight had dimmed her capacity to be overawed though, it appeared.

"When I heard (she lip-synced) I just really cracked up", she said. We shared the same birthday - and that meant so much to me.

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