The Aretha Franklin you probably didn't know

By Nicole Chavez and Marissa Calhoun

Published August 16, 2018

The 'Queen of Soul'

She possessed a powerful voice that transformed songs into anthems and secured her a place firmly in music history.

However, here are some fascinating facts you may not have known about the legendary singer.

Getty Images for the Fox Theatre

Her career spanned six decades. It started with little Aretha learning to play the piano by ear.



Her best-known song is actually a cover. It was written and first recorded by Otis Redding.


In her words

It [reflected] the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher—everyone wanted respect.

Aretha Franklin


The icon sang at the inaugural events of three US Presidents (Carter, Clinton and Obama)


Last minute performance

When Luciano Pavarotti called in sick, Aretha stepped in to sing "Nessun Dorna" at the Grammy Awards in 1998 without rehearsing.

Getty Images

In 1968, she performed a stirring rendition of "Precious Lord, Take Thy Hand" at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.

ABC News

In 2005, she paid tribute to another civil rights pioneer, Rosa Parks.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Her rendition of the 'Star Spangled Banner' at the 2016 NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions was nearly 5 minutes.

Getty Images

Making history

She was the first woman to have 100 songs chart on Billboard's Hot R&B/Rap charts.

Getty Images

She was also the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.