Top Picks: Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, started her career singing gospel in churches as a teen. She signed with Columbia Records in 1960, but her career as a pop artist catapulted when she left Columbia and signed with Atlantic in 1967.

I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You was released that year and included the hit single by the same name, as well as "Respect," which was an Otis Redding song, but that Aretha made very much her own.

She charted two additional R&B No. 1 hits that year, including "Chain of Fools," which was subsequently included on her 1968 release, Lady Soul.

Although Franklin's most iconic songs were recorded in the late 1960s, she continued to enjoy success through the 1970s and 1980s and charting No. 1 R&B singles through 1985. She performed at the inauguration of Barack Obama, where her hat was as popular as her singing.

And the Queen of Soul is still recording music. Her cover of another pop star diva's song, Adele's "Rolling In the Deep," can be heard on Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. In fact, Aretha Frank was the female artist with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits until this month, when Nicki Minaj topped Franklin's record.

For a more in-depth look at Franklin's life, we recommend David Ritz's biography Respect.

Respect is also available as an eBook.

What's your favorite Aretha song?

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