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Aretha Louise Franklin wasn’t always a global sensation—she was once just a young girl who had a big voice. Born in 1942 in a small home in Memphis, Tennessee, to Barbara and C.L. Franklin, her parents laid their daughter’s roots in gospel traditions rather early on in the church. The family eventually moved to Detroit when her father became the pastor of a church that eventually became a center for the Civil Rights Movement. Aretha’s views and talents only grew from there.
Here’s all you need to know about the Queen of Soul:
Franklin met Sam Cooke in the early 50s at her church. The King of Soul was also a son of a minister who started a gospel career that eventually transitioned to pop. According to Franklin, all the singers wanted to be like him. His voice made him stand out more than anything, requiring him to simply stand in one place during performances instead of running around to blow people away.
Franklin even covered a few of his songs, such as “You Send Me” and “A Change Is Gonna Come”.
Franklin visited New York City for the first time when she was 16 to take choreography and vocal lessons. She seemed to believe that she won’t have to do housework when she went home anymore since it seemed too mundane a task for a star. Her father grounded her thought process and made sure to give her a balance—she’s not just a star, she’s also the lady who lives next door.
Franklin toured around on the gospel circuit as a teen and signed a record deal by 1960 with Columbia. Her first single was released in October of that year, quickly reaching No.10 on the chart for R&B. Eventually, her career skyrocketed when she moved to Atlantic Records.
Franklin recorded “Respect” in 1977 without any specific civil rights or feminist agenda on her mind. She believed that people deserve respect from each other regardless of their personal beliefs and gender. The anthem quickly became a signature song that empowered others.
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