Amplifying the power in HER voice because today’s woman is #BeyondCapable

Amplifying the power in HER voice because today’s woman is #BeyondCapable
PWR Story

January 3, 1987: Aretha Franklin Became the First Woman Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Aretha-Franklin-scaled

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the first woman into its roster, it chose an artist whose music was rarely categorized as rock and roll.

Her name is Aretha Franklin. She was dubbed the Queen of Soul because her work in the aforementioned genre was deemed exceptional; as were her contributions to gospel, R&B and jazz. She is far from being the first person people tend to think of at the mention of “rock and roll” and compared to other genres, it is one that she is less associated with. But the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t celebrate artists based on what their works sound like. They are recognized for what they do. On its web page, the award giving body claims that its mission is to honor “the artists whose music connects us all.” And only a few can claim to do that on the level of one Aretha Franklin.

Since the start of her career in 1954, Franklin—a singer, composer and pianist—has spent more than 60 years in the music industry garnering numerous awards with her powerful, often-soaring vocals. She has won 18 Grammies between 1968 and 2008, and earned the National Arts Medal in 1999 just to name a few. Her dominance in the music charts started when she released in 1967 her cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” And since then, “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Think” were added to her eventually celebrated discography that ultimately led her to sell more than 75 million records worldwide. Her audience was also quite varied—people representing different backgrounds, ethnicities and sexes. Her appeal was general and that alone was enough for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to take notice of her.

But Franklin’s isn’t just a recording success. Aside from being a powerhouse in the music business, she was also a prominent figure in civil rights and women’s rights. Her song “Respect,” for example, with the lyrics “R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me” served as an anthem for those causes. She has also donated money to civil rights organizations and performed at benefits as well as protests. At some point during her career, she didn’t just entertain, she provided a voice. It was a role close to the one she started with during her earlier years as a church singer.

Born to American Baptist Minister Clarence LaVaughn Franklin and gospel singer and pianist Barbara Vernice in March 25, 1942, the girl named Aretha Louise was considered a prodigy even at an early age. She got her start performing alongside her father who was also successful for giving rousing sermons across the country. He took her to his tours and there she supported him with her moving performances of worship music.

Her first album, “Songs of Faith” was released in 1956 but it was in the late sixties when she truly started to conquer the industry. Lauded for her vocal versatility, her intelligence in interpreting material and her piano playing, she soon found herself in a highly successful career that has moved various parts of the world. In an era when charts were dominated by white men, Franklin boldly released music which celebrated her culture and was exalted because of it. A legend, as many have said, Franklin has inspired generations who view her as a symbol of Black pride and female empowerment. She was a trailblazer with her talent and character, shaking institutions unapologetically with her sonic authority and her dedication to reform. She may not be always be associated with rock and roll but her work and her life clearly embraced the virtues often connected to the genre: the capacity to be unabashed, to be loud and to be unafraid to look at long established institutions that fail to treat all equally and demand from them some much needed “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

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