10 songs that showcase Aretha Franklin's vocal prowess

Aretha Franklin performs at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York, on July 27, 2011.
Aretha Franklin performs at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York, on July 27, 2011.PHOTO: NYTIMES

DETROIT (NYTimes) - Here are 10 songs that mark Aretha Franklin's ability to stamp her vocal greatness in a six-decade recording career.

I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) (1967)

Her first single for Atlantic Records cracked the Top 10, announcing the arrival of a singer of revelatory confidence, openness and fortitude.

Do Right Woman - Do Right Man (1967)

This song's sensitive country-gospel melody brought out one of her most nuanced performances. A proto-feminist anthem, it aimed to create gender parity not only though the lyrics, but also through the deep humanity in her vocals.

Respect (1967)

Otis Redding may have written the song but Franklin's No. 1 version will forever define it. The recording went on to become one of pop's most stirring anthems of both feminism and black pride.

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (1967)

The song inspired in the singer a vocal that transcended the individual to address an entire gender.

I Say A Little Prayer (1968)

Six months after Dionne Warwick's graceful take became a smash, Franklin released a very different version. The support singers sometimes took the lead, while the star tersely answered, smartly reversing the entire history of call-and-response vocal relationships.

Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971)

Simon and Garfunkel turned it into the No. 1 hit of 1970. But just one year later, Franklin brought it back to the Top 10 in a version that plumbed the rich gospel roots the folk duo could only hint at.

Rock Steady (1971)

The funky guitar and bass that fire the song, written by Franklin, showed just how hard her vocals could ride a rhythm, making for one of her most danceable smashes.

Amazing Grace (1972)


Franklin's debt to gospel was paid in full on her double-album masterpiece, recorded live with the Southern California Community Choir. The 10-minute-plus title track entered the realm of heaven in the first two minutes and never left.

Freeway Of Love (1985)

Part of her big comeback, via Arista Records, it tapped Franklin's Detroit roots to create one of the greatest American anthems of automotive freedom.

I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (1987)

The star's final No. 1 song (and her only No. 1 in Britain), this duet with George Michael transcended its slickness with a tune that let both singers shine.