Today, powerhouse R&B singer Aretha Franklin announced her plans to retire after the release of her next album. The Queen of Soul said that she isn't retiring entirely, thoug — she'll still be on (a short) tour promoting the new album, but with select dates. After 56 years of soulful songwriting and singing, Franklin plans to take this well-deserved break to spend time with her grandchildren before they head off to college.
Franklin is best known for those soulful songs you and your mom used to (attempt to) sing along with anytime they’d play on the radio —"Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” and “Think” are just a few that immediately come to mind. The daughter of a minister, Franklin got her start singing gospel at her father’s church as a child. She was considered a child prodigy; by 14, she had recorded a few tracks at his church, which were released on the album Songs of Faith. She separated herself from the church at 18, signing with Columbia records. She received modest success there, but it was only until she signed with Atlantic Records in 1967 did she become the powerhouse singer she’s known as today.
Franklin won her first two (of 18!) Grammys for her cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” landing the No. 1 spot on both the R&B and Pop charts. She had several other Top 10 hits and because of her chart-topping dominance, she was soon dubbed “Queen of Soul.”
As disco became more prominent in the '70s, Franklin struggled to remain in the spotlight as younger black singers (like Chaka Khan and Donna Summer) rose in popularity. However, instead of fading into the darkness, Franklin bounced back, earning herself a cameo in The Blues Brothers, where she sang “Think” and earned herself a new generation of R&B fans. Franklin, now 74 years old, became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, but she didn’t stop there. She continued recording and releasing music, eventually creating her own label, Aretha’s Records; in 2011, she released her first album with the label, A Woman Falling Out of Love.
Franklin is an inspirational, powerful woman; to celebrate her accomplishments and contributions to the musical world, we’ve compiled a list of quotes and photos to uplift and inspire you. I think it’s no coincidence that a lot of her quotes center around the word that helped jump start her worldwide recognition: Respect.
Don't say Aretha is making a comeback, because I've never been away!
Be your own artist, and always be confident in what you're doing. If you're not going to be confident, you might as well not be doing it.
Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It's transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It's uplifting, it's encouraging, it's strengthening.
We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It's our basic human right.
I am doing what I love to do, and you cannot beat that, especially when the audience appreciates what you prepare for them. It's very, very gratifying.
I sing to the realists; people who accept it like it is.
Falling out of love is like losing weight. It's a lot easier putting it on than taking it off.
Politics are not my arena. Music is.
We didn't have music videos. You weren't an overnight sensation. You had to work at it and learn your craft: how to take care of your voice, how to pace your concerts, all that trial and error.
Women absolutely deserve respect.
I'm not ever going to retire. That's - that wouldn't be good, for one, just to go somewhere and sit down and do nothing. Please. No, that's not moi.
People really don't have to give you anything, so appreciate what people give you.
It's very satisfying. To perform the way you want to. And the way you know that you can.
You cannot define a person on just one thing. You can't just forget all these wonderful and good things that a person has done because one thing didn't come off the way you thought it should come off.
What is auto-tune? I don't even know what auto-tune is.
It really is an honor if I can be inspirational to a younger singer or person. It means I've done my job.
Sometimes, what you're looking for is already there.
Soul is a constant. It's cultural. It's always going to be there, in different flavors and degrees.
Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.
If you disrespect everybody that you run into, how in the world do you think everybody's supposed to respect you?
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Elissa Sanci is a twenty-something writer who's now a grad student studying journalism in New York because she was reluctant to start the real world. Besides drinking too much coffee and daydreaming about traveling the world, she spends most her time writing, reading and complaining about the weather. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @elissasanci.