The Queen

Aretha Franklin
4 out of 5 stars (2,197 ratings)

Regular price: $7.95

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About This Audible Original

You know her voice. Now hear her story.

Audible has teamed up with Rolling Stone to produce an uncompromisingly honest Audible Original that honors the life and legacy of the incomparable Aretha Franklin. Aretha’s universal appeal was evident from the release of her first album at age 14 through her nearly 50 Top 40 hits. Yet this intimate biography reminds us that Aretha knew pain as much as she knew glory. It was the blues, residing deep within her soul, that gave way to a voice able to lift millions with a profound sense of freedom, self-worth, and undeniable talent to rise above sorrow.

Aretha’s unshakeable foundation of faith–fueled by a childhood spent singing in church alongside her famous father, minister C.L. Franklin—allowed her to blend heartbreak with spirituality in soul-stirring song. By diving into the true story of Aretha—from the years following her mother’s passing to the moment she decided to become a singer—the listener can’t help but glimpse the roots of the sorrow behind her famous eyes.

©2018 Rolling Stone, LLC (P)2018 Audible Originals, LLC

Our favorite moments from The Queen

The sorrowful childhood that fueled her powerful voice
Get to know Aretha’s famous father, minister C.L. Franklin
The moment that moved Aretha to sing

  • The Queen
  • The sorrowful childhood that fueled her powerful voice
  • The Queen
  • Get to know Aretha’s famous father, minister C.L. Franklin
  • The Queen
  • The moment that moved Aretha to sing

About the Author

Mikal Gilmore is a writer and music journalist who has been contributing to Rolling Stone for over four decades. He has published multiple books on music and culture, including Night Beat: A History of Rock and Roll and Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents. Over the course of his career, Gilmore has profiled a wide range of musicians across genres, including Tupac Shakur, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, and Chuck Berry. He has also turned the lens of his candid work towards his most intimate family memories. His brother, Gary Gilmore, demanded and, in 1977, received the death penalty for two murders he committed in Utah, becoming the first person in the US to be executed in nearly a decade. Mikal's 1994 memoir Shot in the Heart explored his relationship with his brother, and the aftermath of the execution. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was adapted into a 2001 HBO film. Gilmore’s forthcoming book, Stay with Me, co-written with his wife, Elaine Schock, about their shared experience during and after their difficult experience with his Stage IV cancer in 2015 and 2016, will be published in early 2019.

About the Performer

Adenrele Ojo is an award-winning actress, voice-over artist, writer, producer, and photographer. She began recording audiobooks in 2007, quickly garnering AudioFile Earphones Awards for her narration on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Mothers, and Heart of Iron, as well as a 2018 Audie Award for her co-narration of Loving vs. Virginia. Born into a theatrical family, she is the daughter of John E. Allen, Jr., the late founder of the New Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia. She holds a BA in Theater from Hunter College in New York and has studied the Meisner technique at the William Esper Studio under Maggie Flanigan. Ojo’s illustrious stage credits include the 2006 production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson, earning her a nomination for an Ovation Award, and The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza, winner of a 2010 Ovation Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I learned so much

So much information - very well read and in order. Made me google her dad - her prior performances and more. Now I wish I had followed her even more while she was with us

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

This could have been so much better!

I've been a huge fan of Aretha since I was a kid. I looked forward to this treatment of her life, but was disappointed.
If you're going to do an 'audible' about the essential singer... you should have music to highlight her life and express her soul, and explore her depths... No music here. I yearned for gospel music to draw us into her early influences. I longed for the incredible music of the '60s, the crucible in which her gifts blossomed.. and in her later years... she floundered, and yet soared.. A missed opportunity. The narrative was.. just ok. Her life story was epic, but here it was.. just a life. But it was a tribute even in its simplicity.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • lerone
  • ST-CATHARINES, ontario, Canada
  • 10-14-18

Simply Aretha

the narrative in this book was excellent. The story was good with a surface history of the life of Aretha. Could have went into more detail but it was a good introduction of the history of her life without turning into a tabloid piece. Will listen to again.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Aretha The Queen needs to be heard!

This is a great biography, however it lacks the most important ingredient, Aretha’s actual singing. Short excerpts from each of her great works mentioned in this wonderful narrative will put this audio book on the #1 charts for the best book of the year. Aretha was a most exceptionally gifted individual.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Well done, Gilmore, Ojo, and Audible!

Very well done biography that is respectful but not idolatrous; insightful but not intrusive. This is an appreciation of a complex and hugely talented human being, and the crucible she was forged in.
Aretha has been in my musical playlist for the last 40 years. It hurts my heart that the next generations have not yet produced anyone near her caliber they can appreciate; or who can define and bless them.
Ojo’s narration is very well done.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Claudine
  • ESCONDIDO, CA, United States
  • 10-28-18

A Big Swing and a Miss

This had so much potential but fell far short. First of all, being an audiobook, why was there no music? What a missed opportunity!! Then half of the story was just quoting other people's books. And finally, it was boring. It was like listening to a person read a magazine article out loud. Not to take anything away from the performance of the narrator, because she was fine, but she didnt have much to work with. This work felt like it was a job assignment that someone was forced to put together quickly.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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What a life!

I knew very little about Aretha Franklin prior to this, and WOW! What a life she had. Very much enjoyed this book and would recommend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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She deserved a better biography.

Aretha gets the VH1 Behind the Music treatment in Milan Gilmore’s, The Queen. Obviously, three hours is insufficient time to capture a life, and though I didn’t hate this book, I didn’t love it either. The frequent mentions of the other biographies about the artist’s life made me long for those previous works. Glad this was a free member selection and not one I had to pay for.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Innuendos not facts

I stopped listening when I realized what a hatchet job it is. Tried to remove it from my library.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • W.
  • Modesto, CA, United States
  • 11-10-18

The Queen Aretha Franklin

I was somewhat let down by this book. I expected a biography which chronicled Aretha's rise to stardom. I got more than I bargained for. There were myth busting allegations, some of which had nothing to do with Aretha personally but were a synopsis of the the culture in which she had to traverse in her career. In my opinion these declarations were better left unsaid. Also the book was riddled with profanity, under the circumstances and in the culture which the book was written it is expected, however, this is not a media that I enjoy in audiobooks. The narration was good and without undue inflection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daft Monk
  • 11-10-18

Uninspiring

A functional but uninspiring read. It tells all the well worn anecdotes adequately, but quotes so widely from other biographies that I suspect little or no original research was put into this project.