Aretha Franklin to retire from recording

Aretha Franklin performing at the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Washington, DC, in 2013.
Aretha Franklin performing at the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Washington, DC, in 2013.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Queen of Soul says she wants to spend time with family, but will still perform several times a year

NEW YORK • Gospel legend Aretha Franklin says she is retiring from recording music, but only after a final album this year that will feature Stevie Wonder.

The singer, who has been recording music since she was a child in her preacher father's church in Detroit, will turn 75 next month. She said she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.

"I am retiring this year," she told a Detroit TV station in a telephone interview this week.

Franklin, who lives in Detroit, said she will soon head to a studio in the city to record a final album, with fellow Detroit music great Wonder producing several tracks.

Known as the Queen of Soul, she said she was planning about a six-month tour to support her upcoming album.

  • 18 Grammys, 75 million records sold

  • •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.

    • She began her recording career with Columbia Records in 1960, singing jazz, pop and blues standards, but did not 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, singer Otis Redding heard Franklin's recording of Respect, which he wrote, and said: "The girl has taken that song from me. Ain't no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her."

    • Her popularity cooled in the disco era, said The Guardian newspaper. But she moved to Arista Records in the 1980s and released comeback hits, such as 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).

    •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").

    •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. With her fear of flying , she toured - for decades - 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.

While describing the move as retirement, she said she also plans to perform "some select things, many, one a month, for six months out of the year".

"I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now," she told TV station WDIV.

"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."

The album will feature all original songs, several of them produced by Wonder, she said, but she did not give details.


Franklin began her music career in the late 1950s. She has won 18 Grammy Awards and is best known for the vocal power behind her feminist-tinged cover of Otis Redding's Respect.

Her most recent album, Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics, was released in 2014.

In recent years, she has cancelled a number of concerts. Last year, she said doctors had ordered her not to perform due to an unspecified condition and separately pointed to problems with her back-up band for scrapping a small tour.

She is scheduled to perform in April in New York to open the Tribeca Film Festival, which will premiere a documentary on Clive Davis, the celebrated record executive who helped revive her career in the 1980s by orienting her to pop music fans.

In 2015, she sang Amazing Grace before Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the massive Festival of Families.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2017, with the headline 'Aretha Franklin to retire from recording'. Print Edition | Subscribe