Our favorite time of the year is finally here!

It is time to celebrate and dedicate the entire month of February to black history. Follow Sheen Magazine along the way as we’ll share black history facts throughout the entire month. Every day, we will share little-known facts, celebrate those who played made their mark in history, and the historic moments and events.

Aretha Franklin

Early Life

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25th, 1942. She is the fourth of five children to Baptist preacher, Reverend Clarence La Vaughan Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin, a gospel singer. He parents separated when Aretha was just six-years-old. Four years after that, her mother passed away from a heart attack. The family moved to Detroit, Michigan where her father became a preacher at New Bethel Baptist Church.

Musical gifts

Aretha began singing at an early age. She got her start singing in front of her father’s congregation. As a teenager, she was able to record tracks at his church. A few of those songs were released by a small label as the album Songs of Faith in the year 1956. She performed on tour and met gospel greats including Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, and Clara Ward.

At just 14-years-old, Aretha became a mother to her son, Clarence. Two years later, she gave birth to her second son, Edward. Both sons took the family’s name. Later on, Franklin had two more sons, Ted White Jr. and Kecalf Cunningham.


Aretha In 1960, Aretha traveled to New York. She was courted by many labels and ended up signing with Columbia Records. They released her album, Aretha in 1961. In 1966, Franklin and her new husband and manager, Ted White decided it was time to move forward with another label. She signed onto Atlantic. It wouldn’t be an Aretha Franklin feature without mentioning one of her all-time classic hits, “Respect.”

In 1967, her album I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) was released, with “Respect” being the first song on the album. The single reached No.1 on both the R&B and pop charts and with this, she won her first two Grammys.

Civil Rights Movement

While rising to the top, Franklin made sure to make her voice her during the Civil Rights Movement, she became a symbol of black empowerment and was asked to perform at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral. In that same year, she was selected to sing the national anthem to begin the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.


Franklin and White divorced in 1969 but it did not slow down her rise to stardom. In fact, she gave us more hits including “Don’t Play That Song” and her cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”

Amazing Grace

In 1972, Aretha released her album, Amazing Grace which sold over 2 million copies and became the best-selling gospel album during that time. By this time, Franklin had earned herself eight Grammy Awards!

Who’s Zoomin’ Who

In 1985, Aretha released her album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 1987 Aretha Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During this time she also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Detroit. On top of all that, she released the album One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, she won a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance for her work.

Bill Clinton’s Inauguration

Franklin was invited to sing at Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. In 1994, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Kennedy Center Honors!

So Damn Happy

Aretha Franklin released her final studio album and left the label to found Aretha Records.

In 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and became the second woman to ever be inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. In 1008, Aretha was honored with her 18th Grammy award for “Never Gonna Break My Faith” in collaboration with Mary J. Blige.

One year later, Aretha sang at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.


We learned last August that Aretha Franklin was gravely ill. Just four days later, on August 16th, Aretha Franklin passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

Life after the passing of Aretha Franklin

Aretha’s public viewing was held in the same month at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan were among the many performers at the televised funeral. A star-studded lineup was created for “Aretha! A GRAMMY Celebrated for the Queen of Soul” that performances by artists to pay tribute to the Queen herself. The night was hosted by writer, director, and producer, Tyler Perry.

All information obtained on Biography

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