Aretha Franklin “Today I Sing the Blues”
Aretha Louise Franklin grew up in the church. Her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin was a Baptist preacher and one of the first to record and distribute his speeches.
Reverend Franklin’s famous in his own right, but all his pomp and sermons are eclipsed by the talent of his 14-year-old daughter.
You heard me right. That was FOURTEEN year old Aretha belting out her love of Jesus right there. Thank god for the rest of us that Aretha soon made a transition out of the choir and into the secular world. Whatever she lays her hands upon she turns to gold.
Rock, Gospel, folk, soul, Aretha can do it all. Opera? Check. In 1998, when Luciano Pavarotti fell ill and couldn’t perform for the Grammy’s, Aretha filled in on the turn of a dime. And absolutely slayed “Nessun Dorma.”
Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. The daughter of Reverend C.L. Franklin, a famous preacher. Shortly before Aretha’s fifth birthday, Reverend Franklin relocated the family to Detroit, Michigan, where he founded the New Bethel Baptist Church. It was there that young Aretha began her singing career. At just ten years old she began performing solos at New Bethel, by fourteen she’d started touring with her father alongside Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, and secured her own record deal.
It was Sam Cooke’s influence that pushed Aretha out from the church and into the secular spotlight. C.L. finally caved to his daughter’s pleading, and acted as her manager, landing her a deal with Columbia records. Her first single, “Today I Sing the Blues,” was released in 1960.
Aretha’s true commercial success came in 1967, when she dropped Columbia and took up with Atlantic Records. She traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where she recorded “I Never Loved a Man the Way that I Loved You.” Shorty after, she laid down her own version of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” the song that would become her signature song and a civil rights and feminist anthem. The rest is history.
In 1987, Aretha became the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame.