Music / Aretha Franklin

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Heeeeey! What you want,
Baby, I got it.
Respect, opening lines.

Aretha Louise Franklin, The Queen of Soul (b 25 March 1942).

She started her career in the early 1960s. Her breakout hit was "Respect" (1967), a song originally written and recorded by Otis Redding. This song helped define her persona: since it was originally written for a guy, its narrator is naturally more assertive than most female singers were before.

Her other hits include "Think" (erroneously known as "Freedom"), "Chain of Fools", and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Some of her many achievements include singing at Martin Luther King's funeral, becoming the first woman inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, standing in for Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammys with an improvised but showstopping operatic number, and singing at Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony in a hat that took on a life of its own and is now kept at the Smithsonian. She has placed at #1 on both VH-1's Top 100 Women of Rock n Roll and Rolling Stone's Top 100 Singers of All Time.

Her appearance in The Blues Brothers and its sequel as the wife of Matt "Guitar" Murphy revamped her career in the 1980s. She has never entirely gone away, still puts out hits, and draws crowds even today.

Tropes from works by Aretha Franklin:

  • The Ace: Her unofficial honor as the Queen of Soul and vocal abilities during her prime years of the 60s and 70s have kept her very name associated with greatness for decades.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: "Respect." It would be "Changes the Gender" if the song had any gendered words in it. As it is, the sentiments of "Respect" do sound different from a woman than they would from a man, and sounded even more different when the song came out.
  • Covered Up: "Respect", "I Say A Little Prayer" and "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" are all signature songs and attributed mostly to Franklin but all are covers.
  • New Sound Album: Though known now as the Queen of Soul, prior to her commercial breakthrough in 1967 with I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, Franklin's material largely focussed on more restrained vocal jazz and blues styles with limited commercial success.
  • Refrain from Assuming: It is common for "Think" to be mistakenly referred to as "Freedom".
  • Spelling Song: "Respect".
    R-E-S-P-E-C-T
    Find out what it means to me!

  • Vocal Evolution: Natural after decades of professional singing, Franklin's was brought on a little bit prematurely particularly from the mid-1980s through cigarette smoking, which she has since given up.
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