On Monday, August 12, news broke of singer Aretha Franklin's declining health.
“I am so saddened to report that the Queen of Soul and my good friend, Aretha Franklin, is gravely ill,” wrote Detroit news anchor Evrod Cassimy. "I spoke with her family members this evening. She is asking for your prayers at this time. I’ll have more details as I’m allowed to release."
To say that Franklin is a legend would be an understatement. She is one of the most influential artists of all time with a career that spans more than five decades. She's considered a feminist icon and an important figure in the civil rights movement. Franklin has also been named the most charted female artist in history. Her hits include "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and "I Say a Little Prayer."
But you already knew that.
As a tribute to the Queen of Soul, here are 10 facts that put the spotlight on her contribution to society.
1. She was the first female ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...
In 1987, her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made her the first female performer to receive the acclaim.
2. ...and five other Hall of Fames
Franklin received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, and was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. She's also part of the NAACP Hall of Fame, the Apollo Theater Legends Hall of Fame, and the UK Music Hall of Fame. Well deserved.
3. She taught herself how to play the piano — by ear
As further proof that she's a musical genius, Franklin taught herself how to play the piano without knowing how to read musical notes. If that's not talent, I don't know what is.
4. She's performed at the inaugurations of three US presidents
World leaders seem to be big fans of Franklin. She showcased her musical chops at Jimmy Carter's inaugural gala in 1977 and Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony in 1992. Obama also tapped her to perform at his inauguration in 2009, when she performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee" while wearing her church hat.
5. She's not a fan of auto-tune
It's no surprise that a musical powerhouse like Franklin dislikes auto-tuned talent. In fact, she's never heard of it. "What is auto-tune?" she asked in a 2008 interview. "I don't even know what auto-tune is."
6. She has a major fear of flying
The legendary singer is not a fan of airplanes. After an in-flight turbulence during one of her flights in 1982, she decided she'd stop flying altogether. "I've been to California from Detroit four times this year and Florida," she shared. "I go wherever I choose to go comfortably on my custom bus."
7. She sings opera
On top of belting out R&B and soul tunes, Franklin can also sing opera. At the 1998 Grammy Awards, she stepped in last minute for Luciano Pavarotti — who was unable to perform at the time — to sing one of the most famous tenor arias of all time, "Nessun Dorma."
8. She has received a total of 44 Grammy nominations
And won 18 — ten of which were for Best R&B Vocal Performance.
9. She has twelve honorary degrees
Thanks to her musical achievements, Franklin has been awarded honorary degrees by renowned universities like Yale, Princeton, and Berklee College of Music.
10. Rolling Stone listed her number one on its list of the Greatest Singers of All Time
Aretha Franklin is the GOAT. Enough said.