Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin demands R-E-S-P-E-C-T and she gets it. A self-taught piano prodigy and a giant in soul music, she drives her songs with the angst, love, and anger of womanly conviction. Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, and released her first album, Songs of Faith, in 1956. The Queen of Soul was discovered by John Hammond in the early '60s and signed with Columbia Records, who tried to breed her as a jazz singer. It was only after she went over to Atlantic and began work with Jerry Wexler in 1967 that her musical charisma was really unleashed, and it was here that she recorded her first Atlantic album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, and unloaded hit after hit, among them "Chain of Fools," "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)," 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and her signature tune, Otis Redding's "Respect."

A favorite of Bill Graham's, Aretha Franklin exceeded her "Soul Sister" persona, delivering to the masses gospel, blues, jazz, pop, rock, and even opera music. After Franklin left Atlantic Records, her critical success waned, but in 1980 Clive Davis signed her to Arista, the same year she had a successful appearance in The Blues Brothers. Franklin has continued to perform and record with that remarkable, signature talent that few artists have ever been able to replicate. In 1987, she was the first woman to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she's won 18 Grammy Awards to date. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine named her the greatest singer of all time.

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