Aretha Franklin: A Life In Photos
By Emily Lee
August 16, 2018
The world lost one of its most beloved musical icons on Thursday (Aug. 16, 2018). Aretha Franklin, also known as The Queen of Soul, passed away at the age of 76 in Detroit surrounded by her friends and family. She leaves behind an incredible musical legacy for her fans. Throughout her unparalleled career, she won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. From "Respect" to "Say A Little Prayer," Franklin has created some of the most memorable, genre-transcending songs in recent history. She's been given honorary degrees from Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Berklee College of Music, University of Michigan and more. Franklin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She sang at the inaugurations of three United States' Presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. There's no denying that Franklin lived a pretty extraordinary life. Let's take a look back at Aretha Franklin through the years.
This posed portrait of Aretha Franklin was taken when she was just 18 years old. While still just a teenager, Franklin was already quite accomplished. Her musical talents were apparent at an extremely young age and many considered Franklin a child prodigy. In addition to being a gifted singer, she was also a talented self-taught pianist. Franklin got her start performing in front of her father's congregation.
In 1960 Franklin traveled to New York to pursue her music career. After catching the attention of multiple music labels, including Motown and RCA, Frankling signed with Columbia Records. She released her debut album Aretha in 1961. After a few years with Columbia, Franklin left and signed with the Florence Alabama Musical Emporium (FAME) recording studios.
In 1969, Franklin was fresh off one of the biggest hot streaks in musical history. She had released a slew of hits, including "Baby I Love You,'' "Think," "Chain of Fools,'' "I Say a Little Prayer," "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone," "Respect," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." She secured her spot as a bona fide star.
Franklin put on a new hat in 1980 when she made a cameo in the iconic comedy film The Blues Brothers. She's pictured above with actor John Belushi and Canadian actor and screenwriter Dan Aykroyd on the set of the film.
Franklin won an American Music Award in 1983 for her album Jump To It. Showcasing her personality, Franklin posed backstage as she held up her trophy and the shoes she wore to the ceremony.
The late '80s were an amazing time for Franklin's career. She became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she was awarded her first honorary doctorate, which came from the University of Detroit. Franklin also won the Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance.
One of Franklin's most iconic looks is a long fur coat. She was often seen sporting one at public events.
Franklin performed at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993, and the following year she received both a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Kennedy Center Honors.
Franklin is seen hugging Smokey Robinson (above) at a rehearsal for the "Aretha Franklin: Duets" concert to benefit the Gay Men's Health Crisis at the Nederlander Theater in April 1993.
Franklin's career was an inspiration to so many other female artists. In 1998, she performed with Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey, Carole King, Celine Dion and Shania Twain at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige performed on the 'VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin' at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Blige has long admired Franklin. "I hope I can sing forever, just not as an old woman getting up and doing a full concert," Blige said in an interview with Metro. "Just when people summon me like they do Aretha Franklin."
Another big Aretha Franklin fan? Alicia Keys. The two artists posed together at a Grammy's pre-party in 2003.
Franklin performed a stunning rendition of the National Anthem on the 2003 "NFL Kickoff Live from the National Mall." Thousands of American military personnel were in attendance.
Franklin also performed the national anthem before the Detroit Pistons faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers in game five of the 2004 NBA Finals.
This was a dream pairing we never knew we needed. Franklin performed "Somewhere" with Hugh Jackman at the 59th Annual Tony Awards.
This just might be one of Franklin's most iconic looks from over the years. She donned the stunning blue number at The Inaugural Celebration to Benefit the Steven J. Ross Scholarship Fund in East Hampton, NY.
The Queen of Soul was awarded the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year Honors on February 8, 2008. She posed with close friends Clive Davis and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Franklin was not only honored at the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year Honors, she also performed at the event.
Nobody can say Franklin didn't try her hand a great number of things during her lifetime. She attended the closing bell at the 85th annual New York Stock Exchange Christmas tree lighting festivities on Wall Street in 2008.
Franklin performed alongside Loyiso, Suzanna Owiyo, Josh Groban, Susan Sarandon, Lil' Kim, and Stevie Wonder during the Mandela Day: A 46664 Celebration Concert.
Franklin helped ring in the Christmas season with a performance at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting on December 2, 2009 in New York City.
Franklin attended the 32nd Kennedy Center Honors at Kennedy Center Hall of States on December 6, 2009 in Washington, DC.
In June 2014, the Queen of Soul was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame by Jamie Foxx and Danny Glover.
Franklin performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center for Performing Arts on July 27, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In March 2011, Franklin was spotted taking in the Orlando Magic vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden with her longtime partner William Wilkerson.
The "Respect" singer made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon!
Franklin shared the stage with Tony Bennett during Tony's 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts at The Metropolitan Opera House. 2011 was quite a busy year for Franklin.
Aretha Franklin sang at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication Ceremony in Washington, DC on October 16, 2011. The long awaited dedication of the US national memorial to the civil rights icon had been rescheduled from the 48th anniversary date of King's "I Have A Dream" speech due to Hurricane Irene. MLK was a family friend of Franklin's.
One thing to know about The Queen of Soul? She loved a good party. Franklin looked chic as ever at her 70th Birthday celebration at The Helmsley Hotel on March 24, 2012 in New York City. By the looks of that smile, the party was definitely a hit.
Franklin performs at Fox Theatre on June 22, 2012 in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
The Queen of Soul performed at the N'Digo Foundation Gala and Concert in a gorgeous white and red gown.
Reverend Al Sharpton presents Franklin with the Musical Arts Award onstage at BET Honors 2014.
Can you spot Franklin on stage at the closing remarks from the BET Honors 2014? She's the one in the fabulous fur coat, of course!
Franklin posed with Clive Davis at her 72nd Birthday Celebration at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, proving that you're never too old to throw yourself a birthday party.
Franklin received a number of impressive honorary degrees throughout her lifetime. Her most recent accolade came in the form of an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Harvard University at the 363rd Commencement Exercises in 2014.
Franklin rocked one of her signature, fabulous coats at the Selma movie premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. Selma was based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., who was a personal friend of Franklin's father. Franklin even performed at MLK's memorial service in 1968.
In one of her final public appearances, Franklin gave a stunning performance during the "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" Premiere Concert during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall.
Franklin made her last public appearance at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in Nov. 2017. She performed an incredible nine-song set, which included "I Say A Little Prayer."
Remember the Queen of Soul and her legacy by listening to iHeartRadio's tribute on the Classic Soul station:
PHOTOS: Getty Images