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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Soul queen takes on opera
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin sings soul in the 1970s
Soul queen Aretha Franklin plans to record an album of operatic arias later this year.

The multi-Grammy winning singer has long been interested in classical music, especially the work of Puccini, and said the project would be a labour of love.

Luciano Pavarotti
Aretha Franklin stepped in for Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys
Two years ago she stepped in for an ill Luciano Pavarotti to give an unrehearsed performance of Nessun Dorma at the Grammy awards.

She said: "I'm planning to do a solo aria album. I wanted to start it earlier but it got delayed because I got so busy."

Respected singer

The 59-year-old is one of the most respected soul singers of her generation and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

She added: "I hope to record Nessun Dorma. I just love Puccini."

Before she goes into a studio to record the album she had a project planned with R'n'B stars Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis."

Franklin started singing as a young girl, performing in her father's church in Detroit and singing her first solo at the age of 12.

Gospel singers

Growing up she was exposed to gospel singers and jazz musicians such as Sarah Vaughan, Dina Washington and Sam Cooke.

In 1960, she was signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond, who had discovered Billie Holiday when she was 17.

Eventually Franklin made the transition from gospel to jazz and the song I Never Loved a Man made her superstar.

She followed that up with the song Respect which established her as one of America's most important performers.

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See also:

14 Sep 98 | Entertainment
Aretha wins respect
01 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Eminem snubbed at soul awards
04 May 00 | Entertainment
Soul man's arson reward
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Eminem's Grammy glory
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