Aretha Franklin. Picture: Bang Showbiz
Aretha Franklin. Picture: Bang Showbiz

#RIPArethaFranklin: Who was the Queen of Soul? Timeline of her life

By Masego Panyane and C Fox Time of article published Aug 16, 2018

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She is known as the Queen of Soul, and is considered an icon of both the 20th and 21st centuries. With a distinct voice that set her apart from her contemporaries and the many that attempted to follow in her footsteps, Aretha Franklin’s music has formed a part of some of our most tender memories. 

Aretha Franklin Timeline:

1942: Born in Detroit to Rev. C.L. Franklin and Barbra Vernice Franklin. Aretha is the couple’s second child. 

1954: At the age of 12, Franklin falls pregnant and gives birth to Clarence. Her son is named after her father. The father of her baby is classmate, Donald Burk.

1956: At the age of 14, Aretha is believed to have released her first album titled 'Songs of Faith: The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin'.

1967: Signs with Atlantic Records and produces mega album titled "I Never Loved A Man the Way I loved You."  The album was certified GOLD by the Recording Industry Association of America, and wins her a GRAMMY Award for the Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female for "Respect."

1971: Debuted as a GRAMMY performer at the awards ceremonies 13th gathering, singing Simon and Garfunkel’s "Bridge over Troubled Water". She has since appeared on the GRAMMY stage eight times, tying her with Whitney Houston for most GRAMMY performances by a female artist.

1977: Performed "God Bless America" at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter.

1987: Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was an important event because it signalled the community’s desire to move towards inclusion.

1993: Franklin was invited to sing at the inauguration of Bill Clinton, and the following year she received both a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Kennedy Center Honour.

1994: Honoured with GRAMMYs Lifetime Achievement. 

2003: Franklin released her final studio album on Arista, So Damn Happy, and left the label to found Aretha Records. Two years later, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and became the second woman ever to be inducted into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame. 

2005: Honoured with highest award given to a civilian, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

2008: Receives her 18th GRAMMY award for her collaboration with Mary J. Blige, titled: Never Gonna Break My Faith MusiCares person of the Year

2010: Franklin was diagnosed with an ‘unspecified illness’, widely reported to be pancreatic cancer

2011: Franklin had a comeback concert in 2011 but was forced to cancel several of those performances due to an undisclosed medical condition.

2014: Franklin had an asteroid named after her, the 249516 Aretha. Franklin tackles some of the finest songs recorded by female artists in from 1954 to 2010, in an album titled 'Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics'. Some of the industry’s biggest names worked on the album with Franklin, namely Clive Davis, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, André “3000” Benjamin, Eric Kupper, Harvey Mason Jr. and Chicago DJ/producer Terry Hunter, all co-producing and doing vocal arrangements for the project.

2017: Franklin announces her retirement in February. Her last public performance was at Philadelphia’s Mann Centre in August 2017; she was already battling dehydration and exhaustion. News of her illness first emerged after the singer performed in November 2017 for Elton John's Aids Foundation concert.

2018: In March, Franklin cancelled two concerts on "doctors orders". Earlier this week, news broke that she was not doing well. Family asked for "prayers and privacy". On Thursday, 16 August Franklin died aged 76.

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