60s-style! The influential singer circa 1964. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Celebrity life

The legacy of Aretha Franklin

SOUL singer Aretha Franklin has died aged 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Franklin had been “gravely ill” and passed away at 9:50am (11:50pm AEST) surrounded by family and friends in Detroit, as tributes poured in for the legendary Queen of Soul.

Grammy-winner Franklin influenced generations of pop divas with hits such as Respect (1967), Natural Woman (1968) and I Say a Little Prayer (1968).

Franklin was one of the most respected artists of all time. She cemented her place in music history with her powerful voice that stretched over four octaves, and her hits spanned from soul to R&B to gospel and pop.

She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, pictured onstage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in 2012. Picture: AFP

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, pictured onstage at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in 2012. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

In April last year, Aretha Franklin performed at the premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Picture: AP

In April last year, Aretha Franklin performed at the premiere of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Picture: APSource:AP

EARLY LIFE

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin was only 12 when she gave birth to her first child. She had another at 14.

Franklin had four sons: Clarence Franklin (1955), Edward Franklin (1957), Ted White Jr (1964) and Kecalf Cunningham (1970).

She was married twice — her first was to former manager Ted White (1961-1969). She then married American actor Glynn Turman (1978-1984).

Former President Bill Clinton and Aretha Franklin, pictured together last November. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton and Aretha Franklin, pictured together last November. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Aretha Franklin at the 102nd White House Correspondents

Aretha Franklin at the 102nd White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2016. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Having started singing at her father’s Baptist church, Franklin went on to sell millions of records as one of the most successful female artists of all-time.

Franklin signed with Columbia Records as a teenager. The label attempted to mould her into a pop singer.

She truly became “Aretha Franklin” after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966, releasing a succession of albums and singles of unparalleled power and emotional depth.

Respect! Aretha Franklin in 2012 onstage in Atlanta. Picture: AFP

Respect! Aretha Franklin in 2012 onstage in Atlanta. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The legendary singer lived in Detroit, the home of Motown music, most of her life.

She cancelled planned concerts earlier this year after she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up.

She was originally scheduled to perform on her 76th birthday in March in Newark, New Jersey, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April.

Aretha Franklin, as seen in 2011. Picture: AP

Aretha Franklin, as seen in 2011. Picture: APSource:AP

She influenced generations of singers, including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Picture: AFP

She influenced generations of singers, including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

QUEEN OF SOUL

She sang gospel songs in her father’s church and her career rose to regularly topping rhythm and blues and pop charts in the 1960s and 1970s.

Beyond Respect, her powerful cover of Otis Redding’s tune that became her calling card, Franklin had a string of Top 40 singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

They included Day Dreaming (1972), Jump to It (1982), Freeway of Love (1985), and A Rose Is Still A Rose (1998), and 1987’s I Knew You Were Waiting For Me, a duet with the late George Michael.

Day dreaming! Aretha Franklin sang at the White House in 2013 for the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. Picture: AFP

Day dreaming! Aretha Franklin sang at the White House in 2013 for the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

LEGENDARY CAREER

Franklin was the most lauded female R&B vocalist of her era.

Her style influenced pop divas from Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston, whose mother was a backup singer for Franklin, to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Amy Winehouse.

She won 18 Grammy Awards during her career, including one for Lifetime Achievement in 1994.

In 2005, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award for an American civilian, by then-president George W Bush.

She sang at the inaugurations of two presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Last November, she sang at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala at Cathedral of St. John in New York. This is reported to have been her last performance. Picture: Getty Images

Last November, she sang at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala at Cathedral of St. John in New York. This is reported to have been her last performance. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:AFP

FINAL PERFORMANCES

Franklin underwent surgery for an unspecified illness, reported to be pancreatic cancer, in December 2010 and was frequently ill, while keeping a regular concert schedule, in the years since.

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

Her illness took its toll on the soul legend, seen here at the Elton John AIDS Foundation event last November. Picture: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Her illness took its toll on the soul legend, seen here at the Elton John AIDS Foundation event last November. Picture: Theo Wargo/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Her final public performance was in Philadelphia in August 2017.

“It was a miraculous show as Aretha was already then fighting exhaustion and dehydration,” Showbiz 411 reporter Roger Friedman wrote, describing the Philadelphia concert.

That same year, Detroit named a street after her.

Franklin previously struggled with alcoholism, obesity and a heavy smoking habit.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Aretha Franklin at the 1970 Grammy Awards. Picture: Tim Boxer/Getty Images

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Aretha Franklin at the 1970 Grammy Awards. Picture: Tim Boxer/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Natural woman! Aretha Franklin in her hometown of Detroit during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2011. Picture: MEGA TheMegaAgency.com

Natural woman! Aretha Franklin in her hometown of Detroit during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2011. Picture: MEGA TheMegaAgency.comSource:Mega

After news about Franklin’s worsening condition broke, stars including Mariah Carey – who was heavily influenced by Franklin – offered tributes and prayers for their idol.

 

Aretha, forever the Goddess of Soul ❤️💔

A post shared by Shania Twain (@shaniatwain) on

Aretha Franklin in 1965. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Aretha Franklin in 1965. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

60s-style! The influential singer circa 1964. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

60s-style! The influential singer circa 1964. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

A Hollywood movie about her rise to stardom is currently in production, starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson.

In January, Deadline reported that Franklin personally chose Hudson to play her in the MGM-produced bio-pic, with the working title Queen of Soul.

Music producer and Franklin’s long-time friend Clive Davis announced the movie at his annual pre-Grammys party when introducing Hudson, who performed a medley of Franklin’s hits Think, Rock Steady and Natural Woman.

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