The fourth daughter of Reverend C.L. Franklin may have been the daughter of a minister but she became something far bigger later one. Aretha Franklin may have earned the immortal title of Queen of Soul but she never let go of her gospel roots.
“Aretha, like Al Green, is one of the few artists who is universally accepted in the black church,” Bil Carpenter, author of “Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia,” told Religion News Service. “The church often shuns artists who sing R&B as backsliders and reject them when they come back and sing gospel. However, Aretha’s always been given a pass.”
Franklin used her gospel roots on albums throughout her career as her highest-selling album, Amazing Grace , recorded with James Cleveland stood as the highest selling gospel album for a female artist until Whitney Houston’s The Preacher’s Wife.
“‘Amazing Grace’ is more a great Aretha Franklin album than a great gospel album,” wrote Jon Landau at the time for Rolling Stone. “The liberation and abandon she has always implied in her greatest moments are now fully and consistently achieved.”
Throughout her career, Franklin maintained that her faith is important to her. “It is very important,.” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It certainly has sustained me to this day.”
In 2007, she won a Grammy award for the song, “Never Gonna Break My Faith” with Mary J. Blige and perhaps her most iconic gospel performance was during Martin Luther King Jr.‘s funeral, “Precious Lord.”