The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has passed away at age 76 following a long illness and battle with cancer, as reported by The Inquisitr.
Aretha Franklin’s brilliant career included 73 Billboard Hot 100 chart entries (77 according to People Magazine) and 18 Grammy Awards, and she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha’s beginnings as a singer in her father’s church choir gave her solid training in gospel music, and she brought that powerful tradition to her recordings throughout her career. After moving to Atlantic Records in 1967, Aretha began to reach commercial success and recorded an incredible catalog of timeless songs, including pop hits, love ballads, and anthems of women’s empowerment and the civil rights movement.
As a tribute to the singer and her legacy, enjoy this list of Top 10 Aretha Franklin songs in no particular order, beginning with one of her greatest hits, “Respect.”
1. “Respect” (1967)
After leaving Columbia Records for Atlantic Records in 1967, Aretha recorded her version of the song Otis Redding wrote and recorded two years prior. Aretha flipped the song into a chart-topping powerful tune of women’s empowerment and civil rights. The song was Aretha’s first Billboard No. 1 hit and garnered the singer her first of 18 Grammys.
2. “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” (1967)
This song became Aretha’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts. It also marks the beginning of her work with producer Jerry Wexler and is a powerful, yet haunting song about heartbreak at the hands of a careless lover.
3. “Chain of Fools” (1967)
This song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and features unforgettable vocals by Aretha and her backing group The Sweet Inspirations. Aretha revised the lyrics into a song about a woman who realizes she is just one of her lover’s many women and continues to stay despite her broken heart. Originally written by Don Covay for Otis Redding, Aretha worked her magic, earning the singer another Grammy.
4. “I Say A Little Prayer” (1968)
This beloved song was recorded previously by Dionne Warwick, a hit written by legends Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Backed by The Sweet Inspirations, Aretha once again added her own pop and gospel-infused twist, and her version took on a life of its own.
5. “Think” (1968)
Written by Aretha and her then-husband and manager Teddy White, this song is another of the singer’s powerful anthems of women’s empowerment. Years later, Aretha had a famous cameo in The Blues Brothers (1980), and this song provided the backdrop as she stole the show.
6. “(To Be) Young, Gifted and Black” (1972)
Aretha Franklin was deeply connected to the energy of the civil right’s movement and recorded her gospel version of Nina Simone’s 1969 classic song. Nina wrote the song as a tribute to her friend Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play “A Raisin In the Sun,” who tragically passed away at age 34 due to pancreatic cancer.
7. “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (1968)
This love ballad was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin after a moment of inspiration by producer Jerry Wexler. The song features background vocals from Aretha’s sisters Carolyn and Erma and is a timeless classic.
8. “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (1967)
This song was released as the B-side to “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)” and went on to become one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
9. “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” (1973)
This song combines Aretha’s vocals with the songwriting genius of Stevie Wonder.
10.”Day Dreaming” (1972)
Closing out the list with another personal favorite, “Day Dreaming” is rumored to be about Dennis Edwards, a singer with The Temptations. This song went on to be covered by many legendary singers including Natalie Cole.