Aretha Franklin

(b. 1942)

Known as "the Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin is one of many soul singers who started singing as a youngster in church. She was born in Memphis, Tenn., but her family eventually settled in Detroit, Michigan where her father, C.L. Franklin, was a popular Baptist minister.

Her father often entertained popular gospel stars, who encouraged and coached the young singer. At the age of 19, Aretha made her first album for the Columbia label, after being signed by legendary talent scout John Hammond. Her recordings for the label, aimed at the Pop and Jazz market, met with some success, but failed to connect with a wide audience.

In 1967, Franklin signed to the Atlantic label, which had a strong history of success releasing R&B and Soul music. At Atlantic, under producer Jerry Wexler, she was matched with musicians (the crack house rhythm section from Alabama's famed Muscle Shoals studio) and songs that made the most of her natural gifts. The result was a string of major hits and enduring soul classics, including "Respect," "Chain of Fools,'' "I Say A Little Prayer," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." All told, Franklin has racked up 45 Top 40 singles and 20 Grammy awards.

In 2008 Rolling Stone magazine published a list of the Greatest Singers of All Time, and Aretha Franklin was named No. 1.