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Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

With her inimitable fusion of grace and grit, Aretha Franklin was the definition of soul music. The daughter of renowned Detroit preacher C.L. Franklin, Aretha could testify with all the liberating joy of her gospel roots. She could ache with the sadness of a singer who truly felt the blues, and swi ...

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With her inimitable fusion of grace and grit, Aretha Franklin was the definition of soul music. The daughter of renowned Detroit preacher C.L. Franklin, Aretha could testify with all the liberating joy of her gospel roots. She could ache with the sadness of a singer who truly felt the blues, and swing with a playfulness to match her jazz heroes. After nearly a decade honing what would become her singular voice, Franklin—who was born in Memphis in 1942, and died in Detroit in 2018—brought a blast of black-and-proud empowerment to the pop charts at the peak of the civil rights era, using the hard-driving grooves of Alabama studio-session legends the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section to counter Motown’s slick crossover sound. Though rarely straying long from gospel in the decades that followed, Franklin made the brassy 1967 anthem “Respect” her calling card and evolved alongside soul itself, gliding from assertive funk jams to hushed quiet-storm ballads to synth-coated pop hits on 1985's Who’s Zoomin’ Who?. Whether her powerful interpretation of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” or her surprise, show-stopping performance of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammy Awards, nothing captured Franklin’s range like her trove of covers, which were often so deeply felt that she all but reclaimed them as her own.

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