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what instruments did aretha franklin play
Who Was Aretha Franklin?
A gifted singer and pianist, Aretha Franklin toured with her father’s traveling revival show and later visited New York, where she signed with Columbia Records. Franklin went on to release several popular singles, many of which are now considered classics. In 1987 she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2008 she won her 18th Grammy Award, making her one of the most honored artists in Grammy history.
Early Life and Career
The fourth of five children, Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Baptist preacher Reverend Clarence La Vaughan “C. L.” Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin, a gospel singer.
Franklin’s parents separated by the time she was six, and four years later her mother succumbed to a heart attack. Guided by C. L.’s preaching assignments, the family relocated to Detroit, Michigan. C. L. eventually landed at New Bethel Baptist Church, where he gained national renown as a preacher.
Franklin’s musical gifts became apparent at an early age. Largely self-taught, she was regarded as a child prodigy. A gifted pianist with a powerful voice, Franklin got her start singing in front of her father’s congregation.
At the age of 12, she became a mother for the first time with a son, Clarence. A second child, Edward, followed two years later — with both sons taking her family’s name. Franklin would later have two more sons: Ted White, Jr. and Kecalf Cunningham.
Albums and Songs
After a brief hiatus, Franklin returned to performing and followed heroes such as Cooke and Dinah Washington into pop and blues territory.
In 1960, with her father’s blessing, Franklin traveled to New York, where after being courted by several labels, including Motown and RCA, she signed with Columbia Records, who released the album Aretha in 1961.
Though two tracks from Aretha would make the R&B Top 10
But while Franklin enjoyed moderate results with her recordings over the next few years, they failed to fully showcase her immense talent. In 1966 she and her new husband and manager, Ted White, decided a move was in order, and Franklin signed to Atlantic. Producer Jerry Wexler immediately shuttled Franklin to the Florence Alabama Musical Emporium (FAME) recording studios.
“I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”
Backed by the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Franklin recorded the single “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” In the midst of the recording sessions, White quarreled with a member of the band, and White and Franklin left abruptly.
But as the single became a massive Top 10 hit, Franklin re-emerged in New York and was able to complete the partially recorded track, “Do Right Woman—Do Right Man.”
Hitting her stride in 1967 and 1968, Franklin churned out a string of hit singles that would become enduring classics.
showcasing Franklin’s powerful voice and gospel roots in a pop framework.
In 1967, the album I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) was released.
and the first song on the album, “Respect” — an empowered cover of an Otis Redding track — reached No. 1 on both the R&B and pop charts and won Franklin her first two Grammy Awards.
She also had Top 10 hits with “Baby I Love You,” “Think,” “Chain of Fools,”
“I Say a Little Prayer,” “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Soul’
Franklin’s chart dominance soon earned her the title Queen of Soul, while at the same time she also became a symbol of Black empowerment during the civil rights movement.
In 1968 Franklin was enlisted to perform at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
during which she paid tribute to her father’s fallen friend with a heartfelt rendition of “Precious Lord.”
Later that year, she was also selected to sing the national anthem to begin the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Amidst this newfound success, Franklin experienced upheaval in her personal life, and she and White divorced in 1969.
But this did not slow Franklin’s steady rise, and the new decade brought more hit singles, including “Don’t Play That Song,” “Spanish Harlem” and her cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”
Spurred by Mahalia Jackson’s passing and a subsequent resurgence of interest in gospel music, Franklin returned to her musical origins for the 1972 album Amazing Grace, which sold more than 2 million copies and went on to become the best-selling gospel album at the time.
Franklin’s success continued throughout the 1970s, as she branched out to work with producers such as Curtis Mayfield and Quincy Jones and expanded her repertoire to include rock and pop covers.
Along the way, she took home eight consecutive Grammy Awards for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance, the last coming for her 1974 single “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”
But by 1975, Franklin‘s sound was fading into the background with the onset of the disco craze, and an emerging set of young Black singers, such as Chaka Khan and Donna Summer, began to eclipse Franklin’s career.
She did, however
find a brief respite from slumping sales with the 1976 soundtrack to the Warner Brothers film Sparkle — which topped the R&B charts and made the Top 20 in pop.
— as well as an invitation to perform at the 1977 presidential inauguration of Jimmy Carter. In 1978 she also married actor Glynn Turman.
A string of chart failures ended Franklin’s relationship with Atlantic in 1979.
The same year, her father was hospitalized after a burglary attempt in his home left him in a coma.
As her popularity waned and her father’s health declined, Franklin was also saddled with a massive bill from the IRS.