Americans for the Arts Mourns the Loss of Iconic Soul Singer/Songwriter Aretha Franklin
“Queen of Soul” Was Americans for the Arts’ 2006 National Arts Awards Honoree for Lifetime Achievement
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Americans for the Arts mourns the loss of soul legend Aretha Franklin, who died today at age 76. Franklin, an 18-time Grammy Award winner, had a career that spanned six decades. With more than 75 million records sold worldwide, Franklin was one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Detroit. As a child, she sang gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church where her father was the minister. In 1960, she signed with her first major record label and by 1968 was an established soul-chart topper with a rousing version of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” an anthem for social change that turned Franklin into a feminist champion. With other hits like “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Spanish Harlem,” and “Think,” Franklin earned the title of “The Queen of Soul” by the end of the 1960s.
Franklin's last album, “A Brand New Me,” released in 2017, remixed her vintage vocals with newly recorded arrangements. Her last known performance was at a private gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation last November.
In addition to 18 Grammy wins and 44 nominations, Franklin has received many awards and honors throughout her career, including being the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987; the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005; and the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. In 1994, at age 52, she became the youngest at that time to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, and in 1999 she received the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts. She performed at the inauguration of three presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
“Whether performing in front of presidents or arts patrons or adoring audiences, her journey was an inspiration for what art and music can mean for a nation or a single life,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts.
Franklin died at her home in Detroit. She remains among the greatest musical artists of all time.
Americans for the Arts was honored to recognize Franklin’s lifetime achievements in 2006 at their National Arts Awards:
Americans for the Arts serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education.