The Life of Aretha Franklin
Franklin was born on March 25, 1942. Her father, the Reverence C. L. Franklin, was the pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. With 4,500 members, New Bethel was one of the largest congregations in the city. Her mother, Barbara, was an accomplished gospel singer who deserted the family when Aretha was 6 years old. Barbara Franklin died only 4 years later. Franklin and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn, began singing in the choir at their father's church at very young ages. Their early participation was not just preparation for their careers as musicians, but for show business in general. Erma was a renowned singer in her own right, though her career produced little popular success. Carolyn became an accomplished songwriter, composing some of Aretha's hits, such as "Ain't No Way" (1968) and "Angel" (1973) (Helander 200).

Reverend Franklin was an extremely popular preacher, "with no less than seventy LPs of his sermons to document his persuasive oratory," and a popular evangelical gospel tour (Pleasants 325). Aretha Franklin began singing in her father's church when she was 8. A live recording of the 14-year-old Aretha, was released by Chess Records in 1956. On this very first recording, "her singing was informed with her genius," and "the voice is not that of a child," but of a worshipper totally caught up in what she is singing about (Wexler and Ritz 203). Transfe

 
 
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