Female artists have been receiving more public recognition and support, especially since the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The “Queen” designation in popular music began with Aretha Franklin, who was born March 25, 1942 and who started making records by the time she was just 14 years old (Morgan, 2013). She therefore reigned supreme from a very young age. Her title “Queen of Soul” was earned because Aretha Franklin represents the pinnacle of soul music, combining the best of such as gospel, blues, jazz, and R&B. Atlantic Records, which was her recording label for decades, released a greatest hits compilation called the “Queen of Soul,” further solidifying Franklin’s title.

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According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2013), Aretha Franklin was officially “anointed” the Queen of Soul when “Legendary Deejay Pervis Spann the Blues Manceremoniously placed a crown atop her head during a performance at the Chicago Regal Theater.” No one has disputed her title (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2013). However, other sources trace the origin of the title of Queen of Soul to Aretha having won eight consecutive Grammy Awards for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance (“Aretha Franklin, n.d.).

It may be uncertain exactly how Aretha got the title “Queen of Soul,” but it is apparent why on the merits of her musical talents alone. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2013). However, Aretha was Queen long before she needed such high-profile recognition from the recording industries. She started making gospel recordings, due in part to her father’s church connections. After she had her first child at age 15, her career was put on hold only temporarily until she worked with recording artists Dinah Washington. Franklin moved to New York City to strengthen her opportunities and career in 1960, but she was soon courted back to the Midwest by several record labels including Motown and Columbia, with which she signed a major contract (“Aretha Franklin” n.d.). She later shifted to Atlantic Records, and it is with Atlantic that Franklin made some of her most memorable and popular recordings such as “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.”

From there, Franklin’s career skyrocketed. Her notoriety and status as “Queen” is evident in the high-profile performances she made at events like the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., where she sang “Precious Lord,” a Gospel song (“Aretha Franklin,” n.d.). She sang at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the funeral of fellow gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and at two Presidential inaugurations: those of President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. President George W. Bush gave Aretha Franklin the Presidential Medal of Honor (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2013). Her music has appeared in movies, too. Aretha Franklin has gone on to win nearly twenty Grammies, and yet her tenure as Queen is independent from mainstream recognition. She would be the Queen of Soul if she won no Grammies at all.

Aretha Franklin has reigned supreme with the undisputed title of Queen of Soul; there is no other soul, R&B, or gospel artist that even comes close or who would dare to contest the title. Franklin bridged the gap between white and black audiences with her music, which is one of the reasons why she is an American icon. Her music is accessible to all, as it is infused with the power of soul and its uplifting messages of universal love. Because Aretha Franklin has also been publically recognized as the Queen of Soul, she has the support of the masses — which is what any Queen requires.


“Aretha Franklin,” (n.d.). Biography/a&E. Retrieved online:

Morgan, D. (2013). Aretha Franklin, “Queen of Soul.” CBS Sunday Morning. Retrieved online:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2013). Retrieved online: