Aretha Franklin

March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018

Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1942. Her father, a Baptist minister, moved the family to Detroit when Aretha was 5 years-old to preach at New Bethel Baptist Church. After her mother died in 1952, 10 year-old Aretha found solace through singing in the church. It was immediately apparent to everyone who heard, that there was something special about her. She continued to sing and gain attention and by the time she turned 18, she signed a recording contract with Columbia records. Though her time with Columbia taught her about the business and generated a few minor hits, it would take a change for the world to finally meet Ms. Franklin. In 1966, Aretha Franklin signed with Atlantic records and exploded onto the international music landscape.

Known by all as the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha’s time at Atlantic produced dozens of hits and spawned 3 gold records, 9 gold singles and 3 Grammy awards. “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You),” “Natural Woman,” “Rock Steady”…and on and on. And that was just the first FOUR years of her stardom.

Aretha continued to churn out iconic recordings and live performances for decades to follow. The word “legendary” is thrown around a lot, but the impact that her gospel-tinged voice and catalog had on Soul, R&B, Pop, Rock and Roll and countless other genres cannot be considered anything other than exactly that. She recorded with artists ranging from James Brown to Adele. She influenced generations of singers. There was not before, and never will be again, another like Aretha Franklin.

Aretha struggled with health, weight and substance issues most of her life. But, she always gave everything she had in a performance. In 2018, she died at the age of 76 in her Detroit home of pancreatic cancer. Her public memorial at New Bethel Baptist Church was attended by 100 “pink Cadillacs” – a nod to her 1983 hit “Freeway of Love – and included a complete costume change prior to the final public viewing. It was the 4th different outfit her body wore that week. A legendary queen to the end.


Woodlawn Cemetery – Detroit, MI

Specific Location

Mausoleum, Lower Level, Section 185-188 – Enter the mausoleum from the lower level door on the south side. Aretha and her family are buried in the first alcove on your left as you enter. She is on the top row on the right side of the alcove.


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