She’s known as the Queen of Soul, and for good reason. Aretha Franklin has been an R&B and soul music icon for more than 50 years. The singer has sold over 75 million records worldwide, topped the charts with songs like “Respect” and “Freeway of Love,” and won a total of 18 Grammy Awards. And she’s still making music, with her 38th studio album—a collection of diva classics – released last year to rave reviews.
Here are five things you didn’t know about Aretha Franklin.
5. She’s not a fan of today’s auto-tuned talent: Franklin has a four-octave vocal range, and she is also a self-taught pianist who learned how to play without knowing how to read music. (Decades into her career she studied classical piano at Julliard School of Music.) But when asked about today’s pop divas, including Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj, the Queen was suspiciously tight lipped. As for today’s rampant use of vocal enhancements, Franklin said, “What is auto-tune? I don't even know what auto-tune is.”
4. She was the first female Hall of Famer: Aretha was the very first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was inducted at the 1987 ceremony by Keith Richards, who announced her as "The first lady to be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
3. She has performed at the inaugurations of three U.S. presidents: Franklin sang at both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton’s inaugurations, and in 2009 she performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Five years later, during a tribute to Women of Soul at the White House, President Obama accidentally misspelled “respect” while introducing the Queen of Soul.
2. She has a major fear of flying: An in-flight turbulence incident in 1982 left her with a fear of flying, but in 2012 she revealed that she still gets around. “I’ve been to California from Detroit four times this year and Florida. I go wherever I choose to go comfortably on my custom bus,” Franklin dished.
1. She was a mother of two by age 14: Way before she had her first hit single, the future music legend had her first child. Franklin gave birth to sons her Clarence and Edward as a young teen. She later had two other sons, Theodore and Kecalf, born in 1963 an 1970, respectively,
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