How do you get the title “Queen of Soul”? First of all, you have to record for Motown, right? Wrong. Aretha’s biggest hits were on Atlantic Records. Well, you have to weigh under 300 pounds, right? Uh, apparently not. So what’s the secret?
How about this: You win the Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance eight years in a row. You have 20 hits make it to number one on the R&B chart. You’re awarded both the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. You get selected the Greatest Singer of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. And you’re the very first woman elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that you sang “America the Beautiful” at WrestleMania 23.)
Yep. The Queen of Soul.
Aretha’s father was a preacher in Detroit, and Aretha got her start by singing gospel music in her church. That gospel sound obviously influenced many of her songs, such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, her first hit, and “Chain of Fools.” In fact, Aretha has never given up her gospel music, winning the Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance for her album “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.” (By the way, one of her Greatest Hits albums has the wonderful title “So Damn Happy.”)
Listen to the Queen of Soul at the peak of her powers, singing one of her classic hits: