May 24th, 2006
Aretha Franklin
About Aretha Franklin

In 1987, singer Aretha Franklin became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was a testament to her impact on the music world over the course of her long and exciting career. From her teenage days singing gospel in her father’s church to her ascendancy to rock and roll royalty, “The Queen of Soul” has expressed a passion and intensity that has never failed to move her listeners.

Franklin’s roots, which she never abandoned, are in gospel music. As a girl, she began singing in the choir of her father’s church, the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. The Reverend C.L. Franklin, a noted figure in black America in the 1950s and 60s, was one of the first ministers to have his own nationally-broadcast radio show. Because of his stature, many famous black musicians, including Sam Cooke, Clara Ward, Mahalia Jackson and Jackie Wilson, visited the Franklin home.

In the early 1960s, legendary talent scout and record producer John Hammond signed Franklin to her first recording contract with Columbia Records. Hammond said Franklin was the greatest voice since Billie Holiday. Unfortunately, her advisors had different ideas about the direction her career should take. Occupying a space between Rock and Roll and Gospel, Franklin could not find her niche. Those years at Columbia gave her experience and exposure, but no big hits.

In 1967, however, Franklin moved to Atlantic records, where she finally achieved a commercial breakthrough with “I Never Loved a Man.” She had found her style with a new blend of gospel vocals with inventive piano playing in passionate secular love songs. For Franklin, soul music combined a personal and emotional voice with the drive of the 1960’s black pride movement. In the late 60s and early 70s, it was the rare Franklin recording that did not become a soul classic.

In these early years Franklin was viewed as a potent symbol of black advancement. She often lent her talents to the civil rights cause, and performed publicly in support of Martin Luther King, Jr., a family friend. But by the mid-1970s, soul music had lost much of its political and social significance. The musical trends of the time reflected new values, and Franklin lost momentum and direction. She again switched record companies, and began to record a wide variety of music.

Throughout the eighties, Franklin had major hits such as “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” and “Freeway of Love,” but her biggest songs were collaborations. She recorded duets with Annie Lenox, James Brown, Whitney Houston, and had a number one hit, “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me),” with George Michael. Always trying to expand her range, Franklin sang and performed in the movie THE BLUES BROTHERS, worked with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, and recorded an amazing gospel album in 1987, “One Lord One Faith One Baptism.”

Now in her late fifties, Franklin continues to make exciting, vibrant, and personal music. The range of her achievements and of her commitment continue to be an inspiration to young musicians everywhere. It is clear however, that with such songs as “Do Right Woman—Do Right Man,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Respect,” it is those great early hits that will remain the defining work of “the Queen of Soul.”


  • Aretha website link
  • Sandra Tsosie

    My name is Sandra Tsosie Im doing a research of you and how did you make ur Music Career and I never hear of you at all and how do you sing and you are just a good singer and you dress cool

  • Alejandro Espinosa

    HI, this is the first time I hear a music from you. I just want to know if you can send me your email to say something on secret.

  • Carol Paxton

    I am most disapointed that you are not performing at our Jazz Festival. I am 61 yeras old and have most of your music. Running Out of Fools is my favorite. You need to give a concert near New Orleans if not in it.

  • Carol Brewington

    I am looking for the new CD.

  • Ashley Harvey

    I LOVE ARETHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Barb Morgan

    I am from London, Ontario and was so excited to go and see you perform at the RBC Theatre on May 27th. I was taking my sister-in-law as she has had a very tough year and we love your music! Very sad this morning when we got the e-mail stating that the concert has been canceled. My first thought was, I can’t believe this is happening and then my thoughts turned immediately to your health. I am hoping and praying that all is well with you and that perhaps in the near future you could re-schedule another date in London as we would love to see you. The living Legend, The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin!!
    I would appreciate you letting me know that you are okay.
    Thanking you in advance!

  • moe

    Who inspired Aretha Franklin?

  • Sandisiwe

    My name is Sandisiwe Johnathan
    I’m 4rm South Africa…i admire the voice/sound of Aretha Franklin your music puts me in a gud mood.
    I love you Aretha!!!!!!!

  • TowaOPowa

    I love you Aretha….I have all your music and have followed you since you dropped “I Ain’t Never Loved A Man”…I was 13 years old at the time. I used to babysit and I saved my money to buy all your records. Now that I am in my fifties….I still enjoy listening to your music. You brought so much pride to the black community… Take care of yourself.

  • luther williams

    i am a long time fan of the queen’s!! i have most of your albums!! i have heard a lot of women sing!! that includes other legends in the r&b, gospel, and other kinds of music, but there is none like u ree!! you are in a class all by yourself!! there is something about that anointed, heavenly,electrifying voice of your’s, that can not be forgotten!! i thank you for all the years you have entertained me, and the world! I love you, and God bless you!!!

  • Lalita Charleston

    There are non like you… your voice transcends time, with the ability to change your voice to create the sound that is the soul of music. God Blessed you with a wonderful talent and you have owned up to by giving me and others songs that address every emotion in everyday life. Thank You for being who you are, and I enjoy all of your earilier recordings I think this is you at your finest. Just pure funky fresh soul!!!! Love you always

    an adoring fan from the sixties




  • Barnet

    She’s a really wonderful singer! I adore her songs~

  • TommyL

    Saw here several times back in the day. My favorite is still Natural Woman!

  • Lindsey Tamburrelli

    Oh how I treasured the music sound from the decennium, everything seemed to be way many creative than nowadays sound.

  • judy morrow

    you are my best of all singer. love you aretha.

  • lindsy morron

    i think aretha frankln is okay for an old singer but i have to admitt she isnt my favorite singer. but i love her song respect so i guess i kind of am a fan of hers too

  • Kimtraila Willams

    Hang In There, Aretha Franklin. I hope that you (Aretha Franklin )you will be able to read this. Hello, my friend; you’re on my mind, Because you’re somehow ailing, But your response to a challenge, Has always been unfailing. So I’m confident you’ll win again; Hang in there, and you’ll see; you’ll be back on top in no time, tackling life courageously. By Joanna Fuch. God Bless, Kimtraila Williams

  • Kimtraila Williams

    To Ms.Aretha Franklin,
    Hope you’ll soon be feeling fine the way you were before, because things just won’t be the same until you’ll well once more. Get Well Soon, people in the world needs you to share the gift that God has given you.
    God Bless,
    Kimtraila Williams

  • byrdwoman

    you are the queen i tried to do the things YOU did I grew up the same way but my DAD was a deacon piano and loving to sing but never made it nowhere. But still listen to my MUSIC. And all the GOSPEL that comes across the table.YOUR DAD was one of the greatest PREACHER NEVER I have all HIS SERMONS. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE QUEEN. PLEASE GET WELL, because I NEED YOU and your voice to carry ME on NOT to mention VICTOR NEWMAN.LOL PLEASE HIT ME BACK AND LET ME KNOW YOU ARE ALRIGHT. ONE LOVE BYRDWOMAN

  • Ginny Justian

    You will come through this illness because of youe faith in God. When I read you said “God is in control”, I knew you are definitely on the right path. I was diagnosed with endometrial (rare) cancer this year & I know without the Masses, Novenas & Prayers, I never would have made it this far. God is first & the good doctors are second. I said some prayers for you & I know your correct & positive attitude will get you through.
    Your attitude helps us so much.
    God bless you & Thank you,

  • W. J Lofton

    Ms. Franklin,
    I really hope you will pull thru this. I will pray for you. I don’t know if you will read this. But my ex brother in law said he knew you when you were singing at your Dad’s Church. I never believed this man but I always wondered if he were being truthful. His cousin was Barrett Strong. My bro-in-law was Paul Strong. Barrett recorded the song “Money”. My sister and Paul had a son. My sister passed away when she was 20 yrs old. Paul was quite older than she when they married. I was like 12 yrs old when they married. I’m 56 now so its been a very long time. I may never know the truth but its okay if I don’t ever find out. Paul passed away last year.
    I pray for you Ms Franklin. Jehovah is a very powerful God and he can do anything. Take care.

  • Linda Oliphant

    Miss Franklin, my heart is so sad hear you being ill..
    I will always remember the conversations we had while I cleaning your house.
    remember when I invited you come my church and see the dress rehersal
    for our Christmas program?
    remember the day, a tornado came and we went downstairs until it was safe?
    I would come see you if I knew where you were, I’d love to see you one more time, but
    I will be praying for you…with all my heart…Love you always my friend
    Linda O

  • Robin L. Williams

    Aretha Franklin has given so much to all of us! She is our queen and she need our prayers.

  • Adriene Brown

    Aretha–be strong! Take the time you need to heal and know that we are all all out here cheering for you just as we have always been. You were the woman to make me feel me feel like it was good to be a woman and that we had a purpose and that just because I wasn’t a man, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t worthy. You made me the woman I am today and I thank you and my best thoughts are with you woman! Be strong…be you….I am (and a million more!!!) are here for you. Lots of love and good wishes!!

  • agata

    Please Mrs. Franklin, if you want to recover make GERSON CANCER THEARAPHY-it works!!!!

  • Rosa Little

    Ms. Franklin, I pray that the Lord will continue to watch over you. I know that you are grounded in the Lord.
    I have loved you and your music for years! You are a perfect role model for any young woman — no matter what race or color.
    Your music has been inspirational to me and others. I look forward to your full recovery because I believe that the Lord has more for you to give the world.
    Again, my prayers are for and with you and your family.

  • Kathy Gibson

    You are the queen Mrs. Franklin, I have loved you and your music for a long time. Don’t fret there are so many people out here praying for you and the Lord will continue to take care of you because he Loves you and so do we. You have been there through your music for so many people going through many situations, now we are here for you. You were annointed by the Good Lord to sing his praises and you have been faithful! Keep your head to the sky and know the Lord has you in his care. Much, much love to you!

  • Gary Allen

    Aretha,I wish you well get well soon all our prayers gos out to you.We love you very much Gary Allen from Decator,Georgia.

  • Tresa

    herbs red clover blood purifyer , cancer— bee pollen for strength and feeds the body every thing it needs Taheebo builds T blood cells back up I am taking these for my cancer.
    I love you girl and I wish and want the best for you . To GOD be the glory!!!

  • Jan

    Ending you light and love and prayers for a full recovery. You have been a beautiful voice in my life.

  • Natylee

    To God be the glory! I lost my mother in 1979 to pancreatic cancer, this saddens me so. You are correct God is in control and He knows all things. Thirty some years have passed I pray that medicine and has advanced through Gods hands and you will get better.

  • Sandra Canzater

    Hi Aretha
    How are you great I hope. I heard about you being sick and I know that you are a woman with faith and know you believe in the master. Now I am speaking to you from my heart and soul. Do not get me wrong there are some good doctors out there and there are some just lookin g at the dollar bill if you know what I mean. Aretha I am not a doctor but I am a believer in what God says. The first thing you should do is stop eating any kind of food that is not living what I mean is you should juice with every thing that is green such as what come from the earth. My husband got sick in 08 he went to so many doctor and one really checked him and started treating him for weakness , he went to the hospital (ER) for fluids and the nurse give him the wrong medications /and overdose and stop his heart now he is flat on his back . The only thing I can do is trust in God to get him back on his feet. Ipraying for you but do not trust everything the doctors tell you alway go and get second and third opinin because nobody care about you like you care about your self and I alway love you and your music.

  • dave henderson

    I love you Aretha, and I’m not alone. If mass love can make you well, you’ll be back on the road by summer. And I’ll be there to cheer you on. All hail the queen!……love you, dave

  • JW Stovall

    Aretha, please do one more duet with George Michael.

  • jonah cameron

    Hey Im Jonah and it’s Woman of the Month and we are doing “She-Search” and I just wanted to say your music is sensational! You are the goddess of Gospel your voice is just amazing! What I would love to see is you and Mary J. Blige do a duet! You guys would kill it!


  • Marilyn Hankins

    Aretha — Since you personify Detroit’s “Soul Music” and the state of Michigan, I would love to receive your personal memories from the JFK Years (1960-63). As a FL college professor, I’m presently collecting and editing JFK Memories — only ONE for each of the 50 states. JFK 50th Anniv Memoir (1963-2013) would be honored to have you represent Michigan. Your memory could certainly include all the Civil Rights issues & leaders of that era. Would you please contact me in FL for more info?? I’ve loved your music since the 1960s … Best wishes, Marilyn H.

  • Lorraine

    Aretha now since you are well please do some song with my other favorite Prince. I think the two of you together would rock todays’ musice scene. The song Diamond and Pearls would be a great start. One of your and Princes fans. I’m 55 and like to groove!

  • Martha

    Aretha there will never be another true “Queen of Soul.” I would love to have you sing at the opening of the new library in Fayetteville, Georgia. How can I contact you or your association. It would be a honor to have you there. Please! Contact the director of Fayetteville Public Library, Fayetteville, Georgia. I hope that to hear from you soon.

    Best regards,

  • Karen Jackson

    Aretha, I live in Seattle Wa, when you come west please come to Seattle I would love to have a cup a tea with you, your dad and my dad where in the same church group. We song as children in the church under our dads
    God bless you with a voice. My live is not as good or $$ as yours but I’m bless to be here I’m in 5yrs cancer free it is hard but with God help I have made it and so can you if you put Him first, I love you, The late James Cleveland said “Oh to be kept by Jesus” this is for His love . I praying that you health is getting better, Ps 91 helped me to go to dill with cancer, so I hope you will use this “Never Grow Old”
    May God Bless You

    Karen j

  • Martha Bowden

    We have at least two things in common, age and baptist preacher fathers…mine went to his grave disappointed that i could neither sing nor preach nor would I marry a preacher. To me, the best thing about being a Baptist preacher’s daughter was the music. Under the influence of a tiny bit of tequila, I have amazed friends by singing all the verses of Amazing Grace and Just as I Am. I have every recorded version of Amazing Grace that I run into…the song does something profound to even an infidel such as myself. One anecdote and I’ll stop….I have a friend Jane, four years younger, who was observed during a party with woemn friends belting out what she thought were the words to one of your best songs: Jane, Jane, Jane…Jane’s a Fool. She was pretty upset when we showed her the lyrics Chain, Chain Chain…Chain of fools. her Colorado license plare says: JJJane. Love you and every word out of your mouth.

  • frank

    In England, I could watch BBC programing on my computer. In the US, I cannot do the same when the show I want to watch in currently airing on TV. Why? I canceled plans tonight so that I could stay home to watch the Woody Allen show. I do not own a TV. I thought, fine, I’ll watch it online. I cannot do this. This is absurd. Why do I give money to PBS when they cannot provide this simple, basic service? The BBC puts you to shame, and I say this an an American. Terrible service.

  • colin fitzpatrick

    Hi Frank -

    The documentary is now available online:

    PBS’ general policy for programs is that we make them available online at the time of the west coast premiere.

  • Sonia A

    Is this program available on DVD anywhere? I love to use it when I teach Women in Pop/Rock Music, but my homemade VHS of the show from PBS is wearing out.

  • Nathaniel Brandon”Nate” Harris

    Dear, Aretha Franlklin
    Hi what’s the beef for you & you battled cancer & I liked you as a singer & I was wondering about gettting a job.
    In the music business & aretha I just turned 45 years old. & I am trying to get a job in the music scene & I play.
    Jazz & Pop music on my six string fender stratacaster & I play rock music when I practice my music & the deal.
    Is you will be on PBS to do your concert when you start when you were child & I was born. March 24, 1967.
    And my music career is got to wait I got enough time to be a recording artist. All my dreams will come true.
    Someday & I’m from.Buffalo, New York & I grewed up with in the 70’s listening to black & white artists singing.
    And for I listened to white music all my life when I was a little boy my whole family listened to black artists.
    And but for me I liked mine mixed from the 70’s 80’s & 90’s & my favorite guitar artists is. Jimmy Page,
    Joe Perry, Jeff Beck, Liz Phair, Bonnie Raitt,Jewel, Shania Twain, Rick Springfield, Rick James, Teena Marie,
    George Benson, B.B.King Warren Zevon, Walter Egan, Lindsey Buckingham,Sherl Crow Eric Clapton,
    Taylor Swift, Joan Jett & MIley Cyrus their all of my guitar influences. And Aretha Franklin Thanks.
    Signed nathaniel.harris@

  • quay

    she is very pretty and very smart!!

  • Linda Davis

    Aretha I’ve admired and listened to your music since I was 21yrs old. It has strengthen me as a young single black woman. I love your music it tells a story of your life experiences and changes. I appreciated you sharing the obstacles we as women had to endure.

    It has been my fondest wish and dream to meet you one day. I have never been to one of your concerts but hope to really soon. I pray my lifelong dream to meet the beautiful and lovely Queen of Soul becomes a realit


    Such a wonderful lady i must say :)

  • julian

    Aretha I absolutely love your voice you have brought so much joy to My life you are an amazing person I also love your father Rev cl Franklin he was a great man of God and your mother barbra diggers was an snouted singer to.

  • Pj

    I was only 10 years old when I heard on the radio the song “RESPECT. I thought to myself who is this woman. I just loved her voice. Ever since then I couldn’t wake to buy another record from Aretha. Aretha was the only artist that I could not get enough of. I can truly say that I could really relate to some of her early songs because as I got older I was living out every song that she had ever sung. Aretha will be my one and only “Queen Of Soul”. Aretha can sing gospel, pop, soul, jazz, opera and anything else. Her voice is so able to adapt to any type of genre and that’s why I love me some Aretha.

Inside This Episode

  • About Aretha Franklin


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