Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by liyah. liyah Wonders, “Who is Aretha Franklin?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, liyah!

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.” Have you heard this song? It is one of the best-known works by the singer known as the Queen of Soul—Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin began her musical career singing gospel music. Her father, C. L. Franklin, was a preacher at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. Aretha sang at her father’s church. 

Mr. Franklin became famous for his preaching. He gave sermons all over the United States. Aretha went with him and sang. People noticed her powerful voice. By 1956, when she was only 14, Franklin had recorded her first album—”The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin.”

When Aretha Franklin was 18 years old, she moved to New York City. She  signed a recording contract with Columbia Records. Franklin left her gospel roots. She tried performing different kinds of music—jazz, rhythm and blues (R&B), and pop. In 1961, Franklin released the album “Aretha.” The song Today I Sing the Blues reached Number 10 on the R&B charts.

In 1966, Franklin switched to Atlantic Records. She had more say in her songs and music. Her career took off! The album “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)” sold one million records. Respect became Franklin’s first number one song on both the R&B and pop charts

Throughout her life, Franklin continued singing and releasing albums. She had many hits including Say A Little Prayer for You,, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, and Freeway of Love. While Franklin sang gospel and pop, many of her hits were soul.

Soul was a new type of music that was created by Black Americans. It grew out of gospel and rhythm and blues in the 1950s and 1960s. Besides Franklin, other soul artists included James Brown, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder. Some people also consider Motown music to be soul.

During her life, Aretha Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin is one of the most successful female singers of all time.

While Franklin is best remembered for her music, she was also a civil rights activist. She advocated for Black equality and Black liberation. Her song, “Respect,” was an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. She toured to raise money for civil rights organizations. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even gave her an award for her work. 

For over 50 years, Aretha Franklin entertained and awed listeners. Her voice and her music were powerful. Many of her songs make people want to sing along or dance. What music makes you want to move? Are there songs that are good for your soul?"

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.5, CCRA.R.7, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.4, CCRA.L.5, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.W.2, D2.His.1, NCAS.RE.8, NCAS.CN.11

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