10 Must-Know Facts About Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin 2011

Get an insight into the life of The Queen of Soul with these interesting facts about Aretha.

She's got an incredible legacy with classic songs like 'Respect', 'Say A Little Prayer' and 'Think' under her belt and sales of over 75 million records worldwide. 

Here are some interesting facts about the Queen of Soul...

1. Aretha's musical talents are completely self-taught. Her mother was an accomplished piano player and vocalist so the abilities ran in the family but Aretha learned to play piano by ear.

2. She gave birth to her first son, Clarence aged just 15 years old. The father's identity has never been revealed.

3. Her father was a preacher and became known as the man with the "million-dollar voice" because he earned thousands of dollars giving sermons in churches across the country. People came from far and near to visit the Franklin household including Martin Luther King, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.

4. One of her biggest hits, 'Respect', released in 1967, was originally written and performed by Otis Redding. Aretha's version became an anthem for the civil rights and feminist movements.

5. At the 1998 Grammys, she performed the opera aria 'Nessun Dorma' when Pavarotti had to pull out last minute due to an illness. With only 20 minutes notice, Aretha pulled it off with critical success.

6. Aretha was godmother to Whitney Houston who called her "Auntie Ree".

7. Aretha's got a fear of flying after experiencing a turbulent flight in 1984. She has refused to fly since which has limited her touring options considerably.

8. She's won an incredible 18 Grammy Awards in her lifetime, other female artists who have won this many awards include Beyonce, Adele and Alison Krauss.

9. In 1987, she became the first female artist to be inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

10. Aretha has performed at the inaugurations of three U.S. Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

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