Aretha Louise Franklin, born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Detroit, began her career singing gospel at her father, minister C.L. Franklin’s, church as a child. By the time she was 18 in 1960, she decided she wanted to embark on secular singing career. She started recording with Columbia Records, but only achieved modest success. Though it wasn’t long after, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records in 1967 and achieved monumental commercial success and fame. The song, “Respect,” (you know the one!) among others helped Aretha get crowned “The Queen of Soul” by the end of the 1960s.

Aretha’s voice is one of the most iconic singing voices today. She’s often described as having a powerful mezzo-soprano voice. Not only famous for her vocal capabilities, she’s also an incredibly talented pianist and songwriter. Did you know she is afraid of flying? Aretha said following an incident in 1984, her fear of flying has prevented her from traveling the world and she has since only performed concerts in North America.

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Aretha’s career spans decades and in that time she has left quite a legacy. In 1987, she was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and two years before that, the Michigan government labeled her voice as a “natural resource.” Whoa! She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, she has won 18 Grammy Awards, and has sold over 75 million records worldwide. She’s considered the most charted female artist in the chart’s history, having 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries, and 21 number-one R&B singles.

And just in case all of that wasn’t enough to make her amazing, Aretha is also unbelievably intelligent. She’s received an honorary degree from Harvard University, honorary doctorates in music from Princeton University, Yale University, the Berklee College of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the University of Michigan. She’s also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Wayne State University and an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the Bethune-Cookman College.

Her music and her legacy will live on for years to come and we are proud to say she’s from Detroit. We’ve gone through her entire musical catalog to bring you 10 of her best songs – ones we think everyone should know…

…Check them out!

And wait! One more Aretha fun-fact! In 2005, Aretha Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

From the 1961 album Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo

Aretha With The Ray Bryant Combo


1.    “Won’t Be Long”
2.    “Who Needs You?”

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From the 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (which peaked the US R&B Charts at number 1!)…

I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You


3.    “Respect”
4.    “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”

From the 1968 album Lady Soul (which peaked the US R&B Charts at number 1!)…

Lady Soul


5.    “Chain Of Fools”
6.    “Come Back Baby”

From the 1974 album Let Me In Your Life (which peaked the US R&B Charts at number 1!)…

Let Me In Your Life


7.    “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”
8.    “I’m In Love”

From the 1982 album Jump To It (which peaked the US R&B Charts at number 1!)…

Jump To It


9.    “Jump To It”
10.    “It’s Your Thing”

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To find more fascinating information on the talented Aretha Franklin, visit her website here!