Classic Hits & Oldies

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin was born 80 years ago today

Getty_ArethaFranklin630_032522
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Today would have been Aretha Franklin‘s 80th birthday, so let’s show the late Queen of Soul some major respect.

Widely considered one of the all-time greatest vocalists, Franklin started singing gospel music as a child in the Detroit church where her father was minister. In 1960, at age 18, she signed to Columbia Records and experienced some R&B chart success. Her career really took off after signing to Atlantic Records in 1967.

For Atlantic, Franklin recorded the now-classics “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and many more.

Franklin was also part of the civil rights movement of the ’60s. She sang at events with Martin Luther King Jr., and “Respect” became a civil rights anthem. When King was assassinated in 1968, Franklin performed at his funeral.

Aretha’s hits continued through the ’70s. After leaving Atlantic Records, she signed to Clive Davis‘ label, Arista, in 1980. With Arista, she racked up hits like “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” and “Freeway of Love.” In 1987, she became the first female performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Around this time, Aretha also recorded duets with various artists, including Eurythmics and George Michael. She and Michael scored a #1 hit with “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.”

In 1994, Franklin was saluted at the Kennedy Center Honors and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Her other honors included the National Medal of the Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sadly, Aretha died of pancreatic cancer in August 2018. She was 76.

Last August, the well-received Aretha biopic Respect was released. It starred Jennifer Hudson, whom Franklin had chosen to portray her.

Also last year, Rolling Stone published its updated “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. At #1? Aretha’s “Respect.”

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.