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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 14:23 GMT
Aretha Franklin: Queen of soul
Aretha Franklin
Franklin began singing in a gospel choir
Soul legend Aretha Franklin, who is in a stable condition in hospital after being admitted for an undisclosed reason, has been making music for the last 48 years. BBC News Online looks at her career.

Franklin is one of the most revered artists in the music industry.

The Detroit-based star has won countless awards, including 17 Grammys - she won one every year from 1969 to 1975.

Described by Time Magazine as "one of the most influential people of the last century", Franklin has come a long way since she first sang solo at her father's church aged 12.

Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942 - the fourth child of Baptist preacher CL Franklin and his gospel singer wife Barbara, who left the family six years later.

Her father moved the family to Detroit, where he became pastor of the New Bethel Baptist church.

Gospel singer-turned-pop star Sam Cooke and jazz star Art Tatum were among the visitors to the church and Franklin's home, and became big influences.

Aretha Franklin
The star had mixed fortunes in the 1970s
She recorded her first record when she was 14 - Songs of Faith - which was released on her father's label, Chess Records.

Despite having two children by the time she was 17, Franklin left Detroit for New York aged 18 in search of fame and fortune, leaving her sons in the care of their grandmother.

But her sacrifice did not give her overnight success.

She signed to Columbia Records but was marketed as a jazz/pop singer, despite her gospel roots.

Franklin recorded 10 albums between 1960 and 1966 with the label - but never had a big hit. Her luck changed when she signed with Atlantic in 1966.


Producer Jerry Wexel tapped into her R&B leanings - and she hit number one in 1967 with a cover of Otis Redding's Respect, which became her most famous track as well as a civil rights and feminist anthem.

During the next three years, Franklin sold millions of albums and spawned top 20 gospel-crossover hits like Chain of Fools, Baby I Love You, Since You've Been Gone, The House That Jack Built, Think, Natural Woman and Say A Little Prayer.

Aretha Franklin
Franklin released her latest album, So Damn Happy, last September
Franklin's marriage to manager Ted White fell apart in 1969 after the birth of a son.

But her success continued into the early 70s with hits such as Until You Come Back and Spanish Harlem. She also gave birth to a fourth son, Kecalf.

Franklin married actor Glen Turman in 1978, whom she later divorced, and her career began to falter as the decade wore on.

The soul diva put herself back in the limelight with a cameo role in the 1980 Blues Brothers film, just before moving from Atlantic to Arista Records.


Songs like Jump To It and Get It Right, both written by Luther Vandross, and her duet Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) with George Michael, introduced her to a younger audience.

Respect won an honorary award from Martin Luther King Junior and she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

She has since worked with singers including Mariah Carey, Lauren Hill, her goddaughter Whitney Houston and rapper P Diddy.

Despite experiencing tragedy in her life - her father slipped into a coma after being shot by burglars in 1979 and died five years later - Franklin has always continued to make music.

The 62-year-old recently showed she still has what it takes with her 2003 album So Damn Happy, featuring hip-hop star Mary J Blige.

Aretha Franklin taken to hospital
23 Mar 04  |  Entertainment
Soul legend leads Vandross vigil
21 May 03  |  Entertainment
Aretha 'faces house fire subpoena'
28 Jan 03  |  Entertainment


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