It’s always sad to see great people pass away. Aretha Franklin, the world’s beloved Queen of Soul, has led a spectacular life filled with singing, personal drama, and as much talent as one can dream about. We’ve seen her perform numerous times, and watching her sing can bring tears to the eyes of most stern men. Her rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is simply breathtaking! But not many of us know about the things she’s been through on her way to stardom. From her tough childhood to the one song that made her truly famous, we present you 8 things you never knew about Aretha Franklin.
Aretha Franklin’s childhood was rough. Her mother left the family when she was a young girl, leaving Aretha and four more kids at the custody of her dad. While being separated from mom was not easy, they still spent time together until, suddenly, her mother died from heart attack. Aretha was just 10 years old and barely survived her mother’s death. According to her father, she didn’t speak for weeks and he was afraid she would never recover. Fortunately, she did!
Music saved her
Little Aretha Franklin first tried singing at her father’s Baptist church, where she would pour her heart and soul into singing gospels. Ruth Bowen, her father, remembers just how powerful her singing was, so far from what a child would usually do. She would go in front of everyone, sing her heart out in a beautiful and mature way, and then go back to her seat, turning into the little sad girl once again. She also had the rare perfect pitch and could play the piano perfectly.
She married young
Not many people know that Aretha Franklin met her first husband and manager, Ted White, when she was just a preteen. Back in 1954, Ted visited one of the parties organized by Aretha’s father, and that’s where the two met. Recognizing her talent and potential for success, he soon became Aretha’s manager. She was just 14 years old when they recorded her first album with gospel songs. The two got married in 1961, engaging in a somewhat rough relationship. Ted White was of a possessive type and didn’t hesitate to hit Aretha in public. They divorced five years later.
She had her first child at 14
Aretha Franklin’s love life is a bit of a mystery as no one still knows who fathered her two oldest sons. She first got pregnant at 14 and left school to care for her son Clarence. Two years later she gave birth to Edward, but never revealed the name of his father. We still have no clue!
She was never happily married
It was not long after the relationship with Ted White came to an end that she started dating her road manager, Ken Cunningham. Although the two were very happy, spending six wonderful years together, their ways parted and years later Aretha married Glynn Turman. His friends were sure this love would last forever, but personal differences drew Aretha and Glynn apart, making them file for divorce in 1984.
She honed her skills at home
Aretha might have left school to raise a child, but she never stopped learning. In fact, she spent all of her free time listening to music and experimenting with R&B songs. Jerry Wexler, a music producer from New York, was in love with her singing, but had to wait until her contract with Columbia Records came to an end. When that happened he gladly stepped in and together they recorded Aretha Franklin’s first massive single “I Never Loved a Man (Like I Love You).”
A cover song that made her popular
“Respect” is one of the songs you never forget once you hear it at least once. It’s hard to imagine that someone else could sing it before Aretha Franklin did her spectacular rendition, but it’s the truth! The original belongs to Otis Redding, although, Aretha and her sisters transformed the song completely and made it their own. It has quite a feminist mood and sounds modern even today!
A career that lasted 60 years
Aretha Franklin has been passionate about many things, both musical and humanitarian. Her career is truly spectacular in many ways as she’s been performing for six decades non-stop! She graced three presidential inaugurations with her beautiful voice, including the one of President Obama. She was also a civil rights activist and supported the cause whenever she could. Over the course of her breathtaking musical career Aretha Franklin received 18 Grammy Awards and became the very first lady that got into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She’s an inspiration to the women all around the world and one of the most soulful and talented singers of all time. Adieu, dear Aretha Franklin, we will miss you greatly!