Take a look back at the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin on what would have been her 79th birthday.
There was no one quite like Aretha Franklin. The powerhouse singer, dubbed the “Queen of Soul,” paved the way for so many artists during her time as a lauded entertainer. Breaking barriers and creating some of the biggest hits in music history, Aretha was a towering force in the Civil Rights movement and beyond. On what would have been the Queen of Soul’s 79th birthday, let’s take a look back at her life in photographs and some of the highlights of her brilliant career.
Aretha was always an artist who demanded respect. Her career took flight in the early ’60s, when she went to New York City in the hopes of following in the path of artists like Sam Cooke. At the time, Aretha was in her late teens and early 20s, and she was quickly becoming an artist to watch. Her songs debuted in the top 40 across the globe, but in 1967, her album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You featured the song that became synonymous with her name.
The 1967 album featured the hit track “Respect,” which has been covered by countless artists to this day. Now, the song serves as the title of the forthcoming biopic about Aretha’s life, starring Jennifer Hudson. The song also became an anthem for social change, and Aretha used her star power and prominent voice to become an ardent activist in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and the Women’s Rights movement.
Aretha never stopped recording music, and had dozens of albums to her name by the time of her passing in August 2018 at the age of 76. Throughout her life, Aretha was honored for her contributions to music and social change. She earned 44 Grammy nominations from the Recording Academy, winning 18 statuettes. She won her very first Grammy in 1967 and her last in 2007, roughly 40 years later.
Decades after listeners first heard Aretha’s bold vocals, she still remains an icon of the music industry. The ineffable talent’s influence continues to live on in the music and artists of today, and we cannot wait to see how more singers honor her in the years to come. To see more photos of Aretha Franklin throughout her life, take a look at the images in the gallery above.