How many children did Aretha Franklin have and where are they now?

26 May 2021, 18:11 | Updated: 28 May 2021, 09:41

Aretha Franklin and her son Kecalf
Aretha Franklin and her son Kecalf. Picture: Getty

Aretha Franklin was one of the world's most respected singers of all time, with her brand of powerful and moving soul music resonating with millions around the world.

Now the subject of a new biopic drama starring Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul in Respect, the film will show Aretha's rise to fame in the 1960s despite some tough challenges.

Read more: Who was Aretha Franklin's preacher father CL Franklin?

Aretha had a difficult childhood, particularly as she gave birth to her first child aged just 12 years old. But how many kids did Aretha have and where are they now?

Clarence Franklin

Clarence Franklin (centre) at his mother's funeral in 2018
Clarence Franklin (centre) at his mother's funeral in 2018. Picture: Getty

Aretha first became pregnant at the age of 12, and gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, American Baptist minister CL Franklin, in 1955.

According to biographer David Ritz, the father of her oldest son Clarence was believed to be Donald Burke, a boy from school.

However, it was later reported in one of her handwritten wills, discovered in 2019, that Clarence's father was actually Edward Jordan - whom she went on to have son Edward with in 1957.

Not much is known about Clarence's life, but he is said to have had the least musical interest of her four sons. However, he is believed to have written a number of songs, including some recorded by his mother.

It was revealed in her handwritten wills that she had made "special provisions" for Clarence, now in his 60s, who has undisclosed special needs.

Edward Franklin

In 1957, aged 14, Aretha had a second child named Edward after his father Edward Jordan.

While Aretha was pursuing her career, her grandmother Rachel and sister Erma took turns raising the children.

Now in his 60s, Edward is also a singer. He performed several duets with his mother and even sang at his mother's funeral in 2018.

Ted White Jr

Teddy Richards
Teddy Richards. Picture: Teddy Richards

Her third child, Ted White Jr, was born in 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards. Aretha was 25 at the time of Teddy's birth.

Aretha married her first husband Ted White aged 19. Aretha and Ted Sr divorced in 1969.

Now in his 50s, Teddy has released several albums and played at many of his mother's concerts. He also performed as the opening act for artists such as Seal and INXS.

Kecalf Cunningham

Aretha with son Kecalf and Clive Davis in 2014
Aretha with son Kecalf and Clive Davis in 2014. Picture: Getty

Aretha's youngest son, Kecalf, was born in 1970 and is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.

Now in his 50s, Kecalf is a Christian rapper. He also performed with his mother, with their most famous performance coming at a 2008 concert at the Radio City Music Hall.

His name is an acronym of both his father and mother’s full names.

In March 2021, it was reported that Teddy and Clarence had filed a fourth will that they claim will split their late mother’s $80 million estate among all four children.

After three conflicting handwritten wills were found in Aretha's Detroit home, a fourth one has now been filed.