Born: 25 March 1942
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee
Best Known As: The "Queen of Soul" who sang "Respect"
Aretha Franklin is a soul and gospel singer whose forceful style and impassioned vocals led to a string of hits in the 1960s that earned her the nicknames "Lady Soul" and "The Queen of Soul." The daughter of gospel singer and reverend C. L. Franklin, Aretha performed on the gospel music circuit of the midwestern United States as a youngster and made her first recording when she was 14 years old. Her pop music recording career began when she signed a record deal in 1961 with CBS/Columbia, and she first made the charts in 1962. By the end of the 1960s Franklin was at her peak as an artist -- she had 5 top hits, including "Respect," "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" -- and had become an African-American icon during a politically turbulent era focused on civil rights for minorities and women. Franklin continues to perform and record both soul and gospel music, and although her last mainstream hit record was 1985's Freeway Of Love, her place in music history is secure.
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