On Air Now
Smooth Breakfast with Jenni Falconer 6am - 10am
27 May 2021, 16:01 | Updated: 24 June 2021, 16:46
From a young age, Aretha Franklin was exposed to music thanks to her parents' involvement with the church.
CL Franklin was a Baptist minister and circuit preacher, originally from Shelby, Mississippi. Like Aretha's mother Barbara Siggers Franklin, her father already had a child from a prior relationship, a daughter named Carl Ellan Kelley, who died in 2019. He had fathered the child with Mildred Jennings, a 12-year-old member of his congregation, when he was aged 25.
By the time Aretha turned five, CL Franklin had permanently relocated the family (Aretha also had three other siblings) to Detroit, where he took over the pastorship of the New Bethel Baptist Church.
Her parents had a difficult marriage due to her father's infidelities, and they eventually separated in 1948. Her mother passed away from a heart attack in 1952, when Aretha was nine.
CL Franklin's highly-charged sermons led to him being known as the man with the "million-dollar voice." He also earned thousands of dollars for preaching in various churches across the country. He also became friends with Martin Luther King Jr, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
His most famous sermons included 'The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest' and 'Dry Bones in the Valley'. In 2011, the former was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
It was his singing that encouraged Aretha in her musical path. During the 1950s, he took her with him on tours and musical events.
He also became involved in the civil rights movement, and helped to lead Martin Luther King's freedom march down Woodward Avenue in Detroit in June 1963.
On Sunday, June 10, 1979, CL Franklin was shot twice at point-blank range in what was reported to have been an attempted robbery at his home.
He remained in a coma for the next five years. The Franklin children moved him back to his house six months after the shooting, and he received 24-hour nursing care.
He died on July 27, 1984, aged 69, in Detroit's New Light Nursing Home.