Aretha Franklin

Known as "The Queen of Soul", Aretha Franklin is an American pianist and singer and songwriter. Daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, as a young girl, she made her debut in her father's choir with whom she toured the United States. At only 10 years old, she learned to play the piano by herself and played by ear the songs she heard on the radio. Soon, Aretha perfected her skills and became such a skilled pianist that she signed her first contract with a record company at the age of just 14. Although she was not immediately successful, she nevertheless began to make a name for herself among gospel singers. At the age of 16, she went on tour with Martin Luther King, whose work she supported and for whom she sang on various occasions. At the age of 18, she decided to change her style and started to play "secular" music, especially R&B. It worked out well for her! In 1960, she released the single "Today I  Sing the Blues" which reached the top 10 of the R&B best-selling charts and launched her career. With the Columbia label, Aretha Franklin became a great jazz singer in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. However, it wasn't until 1967 that the 25-year-old singer achieved fame. She signed with Atlantic Records and "I Never Loved a Man" became her first hit. It went to the top of the R&B charts and earned the singer her first gold record. The success of the single "Respect" ended up confirming her fame. This feminist anthem quickly became Aretha Franklin's signature song. It is the 5th biggest song of all time. The following years were a period of great success for the singer who had another triumph with the song "I Say A Little Prayer". She won about twenty gold records and several Grammy Awards, including Best R&B Singer. Beyond the musical realm, Aretha Franklin was known as a woman of action and an unquestionable civil rights activist. She was the voice of an entire people, which made her the best-known black personality behind Martin Luther King in 1968. In 1972, the singer returned to her gospel roots with the album "Amazing Grace". The opus sold more than 2 million copies and is still today the best-selling gospel album in history. But the disco movement swept through the United States in the mid-70s and Aretha Franklin did not relate to it. So she left her record company and started a pop style. The 80's were equally glorious but the 90's were less fruitful even if she regularly shared the stage with Sting, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. On January 20, 2009, she came back to the forefront of the stage during the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama during which she sang the patriotic anthem "My country, 'Tis of thee". Her death on August 16, 2018 shook the world and many celebrities paid tribute to her.

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