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Friday, March 25, 2011

Aretha Franklin: Gospel genealogy

Aretha's Birthplace (By: T. R. Machnitzki)
A child was born unto Baptist minister C. L. Franklin and his wife Barbara on March 25, 1942.  This had all the makings of a script writ in heaven for the baby who was destined to set the Gospel world on fire.

Clarence LaVaughn Franklin began his ministry at age 16.  After being a circuit preacher for over a decade, he settled in at the New Salem Baptist Church in Memphis,Tennessee.  In 1936 he married Barbara Siggers, who gave birth to Aretha in Memphis.  When Aretha was two, her father was called to the Friendship Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York – and when she was four, he was
called to the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan.

Two years later, Aretha’s parents separated, and Barbara moved back to Buffalo with her oldest child.  Aretha remained in Detroit, and was primarily raised by her father’s mother, Rachel.  Aretha visited with her mother in both Detroit and Buffalo until Barbara’s death from a heart attack at age 34.  Aretha was only ten at the time.

The music connection kept her going.  At a young age, she had begun singing at church and playing piano by ear.  She then began regularly singing solos at the New Bethel Baptist Church. 

Meanwhile, C. L. Franklin was expanding his mission all over the country.  He began recording his sermons and doing Sunday radio shows.  Two of his well-known titles were “Dry Bones in the Valley” and “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest.”  He was said to have a “Million Dollar Voice” due to his speaking and singing engagements.  During the 1950s and 1960s, he was also actively involved in the civil rights movement.  His close friends and associates included Martin Luther King, Jr., Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson,

C. L. recognized Aretha’s gifts and included her in many of his engagements and tours.  Aretha was also mentored by the aforementioned Gospel greats who visited her father’s home frequently.  She released her first album in 1961, and by 1965 was being prophetically called the “Queen of Soul.”  The rest is known as superstardom-history – a history rooted in her great Gospel heritage.


Copyright March 25, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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