Aretha Louise Franklin is born in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin is released on the Detroit-based JVB Records. Recorded in church at age fourteen, it would be reissued thirty years later as Aretha Gospel.
Aretha Franklin records four demos in New York City, which lead to a contract with Columbia Records.
The Great Aretha Franklin, the singer’s first album for Columbia - produced by John Hammond, who signed her to the label - is released.
Aretha Franklin dents the Top Forty with an old Al Jolsen tune, “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody.” It will be her only hit in a six-year run with Columbia Records.
Aretha Franklin’s last recording session for Columbia Records paves the way for her signing to Atlantic Records in 1966.
Aretha Franklin records “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” the hit title track from her first album for Atlantic Records, at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, by Aretha Franklin, is released. It will reach #2 and remain on Billboard’s album chart for 79 weeks.
“Respect,” Aretha Franklin’s definitive rendering of Otis Redding’s soul classic, tops both the pop chart for the first of two weeks and the R&B chart for the first of seven weeks.
Aretha Arrives, Aretha Franklin’s second album for Atlantic Records, is released.
Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin’s third album for Atlantic Records, is released.
Aretha Franklin wins a pair of Grammy Awards (her first) for “Respect.” That same month, her cover of Don Covay’s “Chain of Fools” goes to the top (#1 R&B, #2 pop).
Aretha Franklin’s gospel reworking of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” enters the charts. It will top the R&B chart for two weeks.
Aretha Franklin’s Live at the Fillmore, culled from a three-night stand at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, is released.
The release of Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace, recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, marks a return to the singer’s gospel roots.
Aretha Franklin’s version of “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” wins a Grammy Award in the “Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female” category. It is the tenth Grammy of her career.
La Diva, Aretha’s final album for Atlantic Records, is released, ending her twelve-year association with the label.
“Freeway of Love,” by Aretha Franklin, marks the soul diva’s return to the Top Ten for the first time in more than a decade.
Aretha Franklin is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the second annual induction dinner. Keith Richards is her presenter.
Aretha Franklin hits Number One for the second time in her career with “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me),” a duet with George Michael.
Aretha Franklin wins Grammy Awards for Aretha (Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female) and “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)” (Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal).
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, by Aretha Franklin, wins a Grammy Award in the “Best Soul Gospel Album, Female” category.
Aretha Franklin receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s third annual Pioneer Awards.
Queen of Soul
Aretha Franklin becomes the youngest recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors at age fifty-two.
Aretha Franklin is inducted into the NAACP’s Hall of Fame at the annual Image Awards.
Peaking at #26, “A Rose Is Still a Rose” becomes a late-Nineties hit for Aretha Franklin, who’s now charted singles in four consecutive decades.
The autobiography of Aretha Franklin, entitled Aretha: From These Roots and cowritten with David Ritz, is published.
Erma Franklin – an accomplished soul singer and songwriter, and older sister of Aretha – dies of cancer at 64.
“The Only Thing Missin’,” by Aretha Franklin, becomes a charting album track from So Damn Happy, and “Wonderful” follows three months later. With these successes, Franklin can now claim to have charted songs in five successive decades.
Aretha Franklin receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the nation’s highest honors, from President George W. Bush during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige win a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance for their duet “Never Gonna Break My Faith.” It is Franklin’s 18th Grammy.
Aretha Franklin sings “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C.
Aretha Franklin announces the cancelation of all concert dates for at least six months due to health issues. She will undergo surgery in December for an unspecified malady.
Aretha Franklin appears by video hookup at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards, which opens with a 15-minute tribute that includes a medley of Franklin’s hits by contemporary stars, including Jennifer Hudson.
A Woman Falling Out of Love, Aretha Franklin’s first new recording in eight years (not counting a Christmas album), is issued on the singer’s own Aretha label via an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart.
Aretha returns to the concert stage after more than half a year spent tending to her health with a “powerhouse performance” (per the Buffalo News) at the Seneca Niagara Casino, in Niagara Falls, NY.