25 March 1942, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Aretha Franklins music is steeped in the traditions of the church. Her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, was a Baptist preacher who, once he had moved his family to Detroit, became famous throughout black America for his fiery sermons and magnetic public appearances. He knew the major gospel stars Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward, who in turn gave his daughter valuable tutelage, along with two other sisters Erma and Carolyn. At the age of 12, Aretha was promoted from the choir to become a featured soloist. Two years later she began recording for JVB and Checker. Between 1956 and 1960, her output consisted solely of devotional material, but the secular success of Sam Cooke encouraged a change of emphasis. Franklin auditioned for John Hammond Jnr. , who signed her to Columbia Records. Sadly, the company was indecisive on how best to showcase her remarkable talent. They tried blues, cocktail jazz, standards, pop songs and...
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