Aretha Louise Franklin known as Aretha Franklin was a popular American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Referred to as the “Queen of Soul”, she has twice been placed ninth in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. With global sales of over 75 million records, Franklin is one of the world’s best-selling music artists.
As a child, Franklin was noticed for her gospel singing at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she was signed as a recording artist for Columbia Records.
While her career did not immediately flourish, Franklin found acclaim and commercial success once she signed with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, and “I Say a Little Prayer”, propelled Franklin past her musical peers.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Franklin moved to New York City in the 1960s where she lived until relocating to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. She eventually settled in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Encino, where she lived until 1982.
She then returned to the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills to be close to her ailing father and siblings. Franklin maintained a residence there until her death. Following an incident in 1984, she cited a fear of flying that prevented her from traveling overseas; she performed only in North America afterward her third child, Ted White Jr., was born to Franklin and her husband Theodore “Ted” White in February 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards. He provided guitar backing for his mother’s band during live concerts. Her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham, was born in April 1970 and is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.
Franklin was married twice. Her first husband was Ted White, whom she married in 1961 at the age of 18. She had actually seen White for the first time at a party held at her house in 1954. After a contentious marriage that was marred by domestic abuse, Franklin separated from White in 1968 and divorced him in 1969.
She married actor Glynn Turman, on April 11, 1978, at her father’s church. By marrying Turman, Franklin became the stepmother of Turman’s three children. Franklin and Turman separated in 1982 after she returned to Michigan from California and they divorced in 1984.
Franklin was the mother of four sons. She first became pregnant at the age of 12 and gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, on January 28, 1955. In one of her handwritten wills, discovered in 2019, Franklin revealed that the father was Edward Jordan.
On August 31, 1957, at the age of 15, Franklin had a second child fathered by Jordan, named Edward Derone Franklin after his father. Franklin did not like to discuss her early pregnancies with interviewers. Both children took her family name. While Franklin was pursuing her singing career and “hanging out with [friends]”, her grandmother Rachel and sister Erma took turns raising her children. Franklin would visit them often.
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