Inside ‘queen of Soul,’ Aretha Franklin’s Life — This Is How She Survived All Her Trials

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Aretha Franklin spent her whole life in showbiz as a singer, actress, and songwriter. Through her outstanding works and performances, the legendary songstress earned herself the title, “Queen of Soul.”

Soul singer and actress, Aretha Louise Franklin, came to be known as the “Queen of Soul” due to her legendary vocal skills. With several awards, nominations, and record-breaking feats, Franklin undoubtedly proved herself worthy of the crown.

Despite her seemingly rosy, success-filled life, the late songstress lived a life plagued with trials and anguish. However, her pain was barely noticeable as the musical aura surrounding her often masked the deep-seated anxiety giving life to her music. Little wonder the late singer earned her iconic title.

Notwithstanding the downsides of Aretha Franklin’s life and career, “Won’t Be Long” crooner somehow made it work. She built a successful music empire, owned one of the most priced estates, survived two marriages, managed a family, and remained the best mother to her four children. Two years after her death, Aretha Franklin’s legacy still lives on.

ARETHA FRANKLIN’S LIFE BEFORE BECOMING THE “QUEEN OF SOUL”

The “Queen of Soul” landed the planet on March 25, 1942, to parents, Barbara and Clarence franklin. She began her life in Memphis, Tennessee, but the family later moved to Detroit. When Franklin turned six, her parents split due to her dad’s infidelity.

Mrs. Barbara relocated to Buffalo, along with her son Vaughan, from a previous relationship, leaving the singer and her three siblings in their dad’s custody. When Franklin turned ten, she lost her mom, marking the second affliction life presented her, second to her parent’s divorce.

Growing up with her dad, who was a minister and a pianist, the singer learned to play the piano by ear. In the early ‘50s, Aretha Franklin and her sisters started singing solos at New Bethel. Her dad, Clarence, soon became her manager, taking her on his Caravan tours. She continued pursuing her musical ambitions, and ultimately, signed with the Columbia Records in 1960.

During her time with Columbia Records, Franklin scored several top-charting albums and singles. She became one of the most recognized singers in her early 20s.

HOW ARETHA EARNED HER TITLE

In 1964, following an exhilarating performance at the Regal Theatre, radio personality, Pervis Spann, of WVON Radio declared the songstress deserved the title of “The Queen of Soul. Soon after making his declaration, Spann placed a crown on her head. The ceremonious coronation marked the beginning of the Singer’s reign as the Queen of Soul.

ARETHA FRANKLIN’S LIFE TRAVAILS

Although Aretha Franklin’s career took off seamlessly, it was not without milestones. Having witnessed her parent’s separation, her mom’s death, and a taste of stardom all before she turned twelve, Aretha knew life was far from rosy.

At twelve, the icon became pregnant outside wedlock. Luckily, she had a supportive family who, rather than condemn her, helped her through the pregnancy. She welcomed her first son, Clarence, in January 1955. The then-preteen failed to disclose the name of her child’s father. Again in 1956, at age 14, she conceived, welcoming a second son, Edward, in January the next year. 

Franklin declined prompts to reveal the name of her son’s father. However, in April 2019, a year after her death, a handwritten will mysteriously discovered revealed Edward Jordan fathered Aretha Franklin’s children, Clarence and Edward.

Her marriages were no better, as they added to her growing pain, before ending in divorce. First married to Ted White in 1961, she endured years of domestic violence before courageously walking out in 1968.  She welcomed her third son, Ted White Jr., during their years together. She got married again in 1978 to actor Glynn Turman, but that too ended in a painful divorce.

In 2011, Franklin suffered an unknown ailment, which caused her to lose 85 pounds. She underwent surgery that December, and overcame the condition, but never disclosed the nature of her illness.

HOW FRANKLIN’S TUMULTUOUS PATH SHAPED HER LIFE

Going through her struggles helped the Queen of Soul become a strong, courageous, and resilient woman in her lifetime. In 1968, Time named the musician the face of soul music. However, the publication portrayed her as a woman who cooked and cleaned for white folks and had nothing to offer but sex. It dwelt mostly on the painful encounters that drove her to alcoholism and smoking, including her marriage to Ted White.

Being the proud and courageous daughter of C.L Franklin, the songstress took advantage of her media-given reputation as the “aloof, and unforthcoming” battered woman, using her voice to reach out to the world. Before long, she became a symbol of hope to other women, giving them recognition and courage.

ARETHA FRANKLIN’S MUSIC CAREER

Since her music debut, the legendary Queen of Soul has made several inspiring hit tracks. Franklin began her career as a gospel singer but deviated into pop music in the early 60s with Columbia records. T

She released her first secular album, “Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo,” in 1961. She went on to drop several albums and singles with the record, including “The Electrifying Aretha Franklin,” and “The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin.”

After spending six years on Columbia Records, the icon signed with the Atlantic Records, and later, with the Clive Davis’ Arista Records. She remained at the peak of her career with these records between 1967 and 2007. Some of her hit tracks include “Who’s Zooming Who?” “Love All The Hurt Away,” “I’m In Love,” and “Until You Come Back To Me.” The singer released her last album, “A Brand New Me,” in November 2017. She remained a top-performing artist with widespread acclaim until her death from cancer on August 16, 2018.

Aretha Franklin’s songs were described by most as a reflection of bitterness, betrayal, devotion, wounded, and sensual, all of which were reflective of her life’s ordeals.