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Legendary Singer Aretha Franklin Dies At The Age Of 76

Aretha Franklin. PHOTO/COURTESY
Aretha Franklin. PHOTO/COURTESY

Respect hit maker Aretha Franklin, the preacher’s daughter whose powerful voice made her the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” is dead, at the age of 76.

The Queen of Soul died at her home in Detroit.She had been battling advanced pancreatic cancer, and her family had asked for prayers.

Franklin has made history by winning 18 Grammys and had some 25 gold records.   Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said few people in the city’s history had been as universally loved or had left as indelible a mark as Franklin, describing her as a “performer without peers.”

Franklin’s father was a Baptist preacher in Detroit, and the gospel singing she heard in his church was her musical foundation. She created a uniquely emotional and powerful voice that put her at the forefront of 1960s soul music along with Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett.

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Franklin sang at the funeral of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, as well as at the presidential inaugurations of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. In 1987 she became the first woman voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2010 Rolling Stone magazine named her the number one singer of the rock era.

After recording and touring as a young gospel singer, Franklin’s career took a secular turn in 1961 when she signed with Columbia Records. She had only modest success with Columbia, which had trouble classifying her style and tried to steer her toward pop. But when she switched to Atlantic Records in the mid-1960s, producer Jerry Wexler knew just what to do with Franklin, putting her powerful voice in a setting that combined gospel, soul and rock and made her a superstar by letting “the lady wail.” As Franklin put it in her autobiography, she “Aretha-ized” the music.

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Written by Francis Muli

Senior reporter at Kahawa Tungu, Muli has a passion for human interest stories. Believes in unearthing societal rots that have been hidden from the public eye.
Follow me on Twitter @FmuliKE. Email francis@kahawatungu.com

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