This Day in Music History: Aretha Franklin Makes Her Television Debut
Aretha Louise Franklin, born March 25, 1942, is an American singer and musician. Franklin began her career singing gospel at her father’s church as a child. In 1960, at the age of 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records only achieving modest success. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think”. These hits and more helped her to gain the title The Queen of Soul by the end of the 1960s decade.
Franklin recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history.
Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, in which she placed number 9, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in which she placed number 1.
In January 1961, Columbia issued Franklin’s debut album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo. The album featured her first single to chart the Billboard Hot 100, “Won’t Be Long”, which also peaked at number 7 on the R&B chart. Mostly produced by Clyde Otis, Franklin’s Columbia recordings saw her recording in diverse genres such as standards, vocal jazz, blues, doo-wop and rhythm and blues.
In 1980 she gave a command performance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of Queen Elizabeth. Franklin also made an acclaimed guest role as a waitress in the comedy musical, The Blues Brothers. In 1985, inspired by her desire to have a “younger sound” in her music, her fifth Arista album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, became her first album to be certified platinum, after selling well over a million copies, thanks to the hits, “Freeway of Love”, the title track and “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves”.[Franklin performed The Star Spangled Banner with Aaron Neville and Dr. John for Super Bowl XL, held in her hometown of Detroit in February 2006. She later made international headlines for performing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony with her church hat becoming a popular topic online. In 2010, Franklin accepted an honorary degree from Yale University.