Amazing Aretha to retire: A look back at the Queen of Soul's career

Aretha Franklin performs at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Feb 17, 2012.
Aretha Franklin performs at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Feb 17, 2012. PHOTO: REUTERS

Gospel legend Aretha Franklin - who turns 75 next month - says she is retiring from recording music, but only after a final album this year that will feature Stevie Wonder. Here is a look back on the career of one of the most stunning voices the music world has ever heard.

1. Aretha Franklin was born in 1942 to popular preacher and singer C. L. Franklin and his wife Barbara Siggers. As a teenager, she was the star of her father's gospel show in Detroit.

2. She began her recording career with Columbia Records in 1960, singing jazz, pop and blues standards, but did not quite get into the groove until she moved to Atlantic Records in 1967 and released R&B hits including Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Chain Of Fools, Think and I Say A Little Prayer.

According to the 2014 biography Respect: The Life Of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding heard Franklin's sensational recording of Respect, which he had written, and said: "The girl has taken that song from me. Ain't no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her."

3. Her popularity cooled in the disco era, said The Guardian newspaper. However, she moved to Arista Records in the 1980s and released comeback hits including Jump To It. She also appeared in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers and recorded a 1987 hit with George Michael, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).

4. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine named her the greatest singer of all time ("a force from heaven", "a gift from God", "the reason why women want to sing").

 

5. In more than five decades, she has won 18 Grammy Awards, sold more than 75 million records and sung at three presidential inaugurations (for Mr Barack Obama, Mr Bill Clinton and Mr Jimmy Carter), said The Guardian. Unable to fly for years, she toured only where she could travel by her custom bus.

But she continued to release records, including Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics in 2014. Her cover of Adele's Rolling In The Deep, which she performed on Late Show With David Letterman that year, has been played millions of times on YouTube.