Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee (bio 1). She was one of five children born to Rev. Clarence L. Franklin and Barbara (Siggers) Franklin (Moritz 132). Aretha was born into a very musical family. Her mother, Barbara, was a gospel singer and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn, are both vocalists, too (Glickman 1, Moritz 132). Her brothers took a different, unmusical approach to their lives. Her brother, Cecil, is the Assistant Pastor at his father’s church and her other brother, Vaughn, is a career man in the United States (Moritz 132).
When Aretha was two years old her father took her, and the rest of his family, North (Moritz 132). Five years after they moved, they settled in Detroit, Michigan (Moritz 132). By the time she was six, Aretha’s parents had separated (bio 1). Four years later, in 1952, her mother passed away due to a heart attack (bio 1, Moritz 132). The tragedy took a toll on the young ten year old. Many times, Aretha and her siblings were left in the care of the housekeepers while their father was away on tour for weeks at a time (Moritz 132). At the age of fifteen, Aretha had her first son, and her second was only two years after that (bio 1). Saying Aretha had a rough childhood would be an understatement.
Throughout her childhood, Aretha had many influential guests in her home and at her father’s church. While shaping her singing style, she was influenced by the blues and jazz legends Billy Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughn (Rock 1). Her greatest influences were her aunt, Clara Ward and Mahalia Jackson (Rock 1). Many men inspired her, too. For example, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, and Sam Cooke were just a few (Rock 1). Aretha’s style of music was also widely shaped by her experiences touring with her father.
Aretha was an extremely talented singer and pianist. She was, for the most part, self-taught and was regarded as a child prodigy (bio 1). At just fourteen years old Aretha’s father took her on the road with his traveling gospel show as a featured singer while she was not attending school in Detroit (Glickman 1, Moritz 132). Touring with her father gave her important performing experiences, but it was also a very tough time for her (Moritz 132). Her brother told a Time Magazine interviewer: “Driving eight or ten hours trying to make a gig, and being hungry and passing restaurants all along the road, and having to go off the highway into some little city to find a place to eat because you’re black- that had its effect” (Moritz 132).
Everyone knew Aretha was incredibly talented at a very young age. At twelve years old, Aretha cut her first record on her first solo...