Aretha Franklin, also known as the Queen of Soul, is considered to be one of the greatest singers and musicians of all time. But beyond the shining fame, Franklin seemed to have a troubled soul that she struggled to hide from the public eye until her death on August 2018.
Aretha, one of five children, was born in Memphis in 1942 and her family moved to Detroit when she was 4-years old. At an early age, Aretha showed her talent in music, joining the choir at her father’s church. In fact, she could replay a tune on the piano after hearing it even only for one time when she was 7-years old.
Growing up, Aretha was highly influenced by her father, Clarence Franklin, who was a famous Baptist preacher. She and her siblings were mostly raised by their father’s secretaries and girlfriends after their mother, who couldn’t take their father’s notorious womanizing, left their home when she was 6-years old and died when she was 9-years old.
With the sexual environment that surrounded her, she became highly-sexualized at an early age. She became pregnant at the age of 12 and gave birth to two children from different fathers by the time she was 15-years old.
But she did not forget her dream of becoming a singer. She dropped out of school at the age of 12, left her children to her grandmother, and joined her father’s travelling ‘Gospel Caravan.’ When she was 18-years old, she went to New York and signed with Atlantic Records.
At the age of 19, she married her first husband, Ted White, who was a criminal and pimp. Even though her music career was starting to boom at that time, she was living a terrible married life. To somehow forget the pain she was feeling, she began eating and drinking alcohol compulsively.
She eventually divorced her husband whom she had one child with and went on to have boyfriends here and there. She had another child with Ken Cunningham, her road manager, and married her second husband Glynn Turman, who was an actor.
By that time, her career was struggling as she was disabled with several issues about her attitude. She allegedly treated all her colleagues as rivals. She even clashed with her family members regarding important decisions. She continued her extravagant lifestyle even though she was already buried in too much debt. And when people concerned about her welfare suggested that she seek professional help, she shrugged it all off.
However, despite her dark past and the many controversies she faced, people still remember her for her signature songs such as Respect and You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman. She is also still considered to be an international music icon and the Queen of Soul. And when she died at the age of 76 after battling pancreatic cancer, she did not leave her throne; she took it with her.