Aretha Franklin in Numbers: Showing Respect to the Late, Great, Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin Movie

In the new biopic Respect, Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha Franklin — a role the former American Idol contestant was handpicked to play by the legendary singer herself.

Hudson and Franklin became friends after the former starred in the 2006 musical film Dreamgirls, and began a tradition of chatting on the phone, on average, once a week.

“The last time I heard her voice was August 8 (2018),” Hudson told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s red carpet premiere. “It’s odd that here we are again, on August 8, three years later.

“Right after we spoke, they told me she was no longer competent enough to speak but she sang to me on our call and we talked about my son and his cooking. She loves to cook and so does he. I sent her a video of him cooking. I truly miss hearing from her.”

Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018, aged 76, from pancreatic cancer, leaving behind a sea of devastated fans and a legacy that is hard to summarise.

Respect, which will be released in Australia on August 19, examines Franklin’s life from her beginnings in her father’s church choir and rise to fame as she becomes an international musical superstar and the Queen of Soul. The biopic also delves into Franklin’s abusive marriage, the constraints of patriarchy and the singer’s involvement in the civil rights movement.

To celebrate the enduring impact of Aretha Franklin and her music, here are some important numbers from her life and career.

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Is the age she was when she released her first album.

It was called The Gospel Sound of Aretha Franklin and it was released in 1956.


Is the number of albums she released over the course of her career, including 38 studio albums and 6 live records. She also appeared on 62 compilation albums.


Is the number of Grammy Awards Aretha Franklin has won. The first was in 1968 for ‘Respect’, the last was in 2011 for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for ‘You’ve Got a Friend.’


Was the number of number-one singles Franklin recorded.

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75 Million…

Is the number of records she has sold worldwide — she is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.


Is the number of people subscribed to her artist channel on Spotify. 


Is the number of films, series and documentaries that have either been about or have featured Franklin.

The 2018 documentary Amazing Grace, in which Franklin records her gospel album of the same name for a congregation at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972, is an absolute must-watch.


Is the number of fans who lined up for hours before being admitted to Franklin’s funeral service in Detroit, Michigan.

Several hundred more watched the ceremony on a giant outdoor screen that had been set up about a block away.


Was the number of pink Cadillacs that were part of the funeral procession.


Was the number of presidential inaugurations Franklin sang at — Jimmy Carter’s in 1977, Bill Clinton’s in 1993 and Barack Obama‘s in 2009.


Is the number of shows Franklin would perform without first receiving payment. The legendary singer refused to go on stage unless she had been paid in cash first, which is why you might notice she was rarely without her purse!

The practice of getting paid upfront stemmed from a time in American history when many Black artists were underpaid or not paid at all for their performances.

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