"Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well." (Aretha Franklin)
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
A certain inevitability characterizes the rise to fame of Aretha Franklin. Indeed, while it is true that neither of her parents were pop singers, they were each talented vocalists - Aretha's father, C.L., was a particularly famous preacher, with a voice so melodic that his sermons effectively doubled as musical performances. Moreover, in an age in which economic opportunities were particularly limited for African-Americans, Aretha was fortunate enough to grow up in a household of relative comfort. Not only was she exposed to music on a daily basis in her household, but her father was a savvy enough businessman to orchestrate her career during its nascent stages, helping her navigate the challenges of entering the music industry. To be certain, in many respects, Aretha Franklin was from an early age the beneficiary of opportunities that are simply unavailable to most aspiring vocalists.