GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin’s career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, and “I Say a Little Prayer” propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as the “Queen of Soul”.Franklin continued to record acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Spirit in the Dark (1970), Young, Gifted and Black (1972), Amazing Grace (1972), and Sparkle (1976) before experiencing problems with her record company. Franklin left Atlantic in 1979 and signed with Arista Records. She appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers before releasing the successful albums Jump to It (1982), Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985), and Aretha (1986) on the Arista label. In 1998, Franklin returned to the Top 40 with the Lauryn Hill-produced song “A Rose Is Still a Rose”; later, she released an album of the same name which was certified gold. That same year, Franklin earned international acclaim for her performance of “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards; she filled in at the last minute for Luciano Pavarotti, who canceled his appearance after the show had already begun. In a widely noted performance, she paid tribute to 2015 honoree Carole King by singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center Honors.Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries, and 20 number-one R&B singles. Besides the foregoing, Franklin’s well-known hits also include “Ain’t No Way”, “Call Me”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Spanish Harlem”, “Rock Steady”, “Day Dreaming”, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”, “Something He Can Feel”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (a duet with George Michael). She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (1968–1975). Franklin is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide. Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1987, she became the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her number one on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” and number nine on its list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2019 awarded Franklin a posthumous special citation “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades”.Today in our History – November 27, – Rolling Stone magazine, which ranks Aretha Franklin as the number one on its list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.A gifted singer and pianist, Aretha Franklin toured with her father’s traveling revival show and later visited New York, where she signed with Columbia Records. Franklin went on to release several popular singles, many of which are now considered classics. In 1987 she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2008 she won her 18th Grammy Award, making her one of the most honored artists in Grammy history.The fourth of five children, Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Baptist preacher Reverend Clarence La Vaughan “C. L.” Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin, a gospel singer. Franklin’s parents separated by the time she was six, and four years later her mother succumbed to a heart attack. Guided by C. L.’s preaching assignments, the family relocated to Detroit, Michigan. C. L. eventually landed at New Bethel Baptist Church, where he gained national renown as a preacher.Franklin’s musical gifts became apparent at an early age. Largely self-taught, she was regarded as a child prodigy. A gifted pianist with a powerful voice, Franklin got her start singing in front of her father’s congregation. By the age of 14, she had recorded some of her earliest tracks at his church, which were released by a small label as the album Songs of Faith in 1956. She also performed with C. L.’s traveling revival show and, while on tour, befriended gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke and Clara Ward.But life on the road also exposed Franklin to adult behaviors, and at the age of 14, she became a mother for the first time with a son, Clarence. A second child, Edward, followed two years later — with both sons taking her family’s name. Franklin would later have two more sons: Ted White, Jr. and Kecalf Cunningham.But by 1975, Franklin’s sound was fading into the background with the onset of the disco craze, and an emerging set of young Black singers, such as Chaka Khan and Donna Summer, began to eclipse Franklin’s career. She did, however, find a brief respite from slumping sales with the 1976 soundtrack to the Warner Brothers film Sparkle — which topped the R&B charts and made the Top 20 in pop — as well as an invitation to perform at the 1977 presidential inauguration of Jimmy Carter. In 1978 she also married actor Glynn Turman.A string of chart failures ended Franklin’s relationship with Atlantic in 1979. The same year, her father was hospitalized after a burglary attempt in his home left him in a coma. As her popularity waned and her father’s health declined, Franklin was also saddled with a massive bill from the IRS. However, a cameo in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers helped Franklin revive her flagging career. Performing “Think” alongside comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd exposed her to a new generation of R&B lovers, and she soon signed to Arista Records.Her new label released 1982’s Jump To It, an album that enjoyed huge success on the R&B charts and earned Franklin a Grammy nomination. Two years later, she endured a divorce from Turman as well as the death of her father.In 2008 she received her 18th Grammy Award for “Never Gonna Break My Faith” — a collaboration with Mary J. Blige — and was tapped to sing at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.With 18 Grammys under her belt, Franklin is one of the most honored artists in Grammy history, ranked among the likes of Alison Krauss, Adele and Beyoncé Knowles. In 2011 Franklin released her first album on her own label, A Woman Falling Out of Love. To support the project, she performed several concerts, including a two-night stint at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York. With fans and critics alike impressed with her performances, she successfully proved that the Queen of Soul still reigned supreme.’Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics’In 2014 Franklin underscored that point with Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, which reached No. 13 on the pop charts and No. 3 R&B. In February 2017, the 74-year-old Queen of Soul told Detroit radio station WDIV Local 4 that she was collaborating with Stevie Wonder to release a new album.“I must tell you, I am retiring this year,” she said in the interview, adding: “I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now. I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.”In January 2018, it was announced that Franklin had hand-picked singer and actress Jennifer Hudson to play her in an upcoming biopic.On August 12, 2018, it was reported that a “gravely ill” Franklin was bedridden in her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends. As news of her condition spread, more luminaries paid a visit to express their well wishes, including Wonder and Jesse Jackson.Four days later, on the morning of August 16, Franklin succumbed to her illness, which her family revealed to be pancreatic cancer. A public viewing was held later that month at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, with fans camping out overnight for the chance to pay their respects to the iconic singer. Her televised funeral was set to be held at the city’s Greater Grace Temple on August 31, with Wonder, Khan and Hudson among the scheduled performers, and Jackson, Clinton and Smokey Robinson highlighting the list of speakers. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!