Aretha Franklin Quotations

The youngest recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor and the first black woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine, Aretha Franklin is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Known for many years as “The Queen of Soul”, she is also adept at jazz, rock, blues, pop, and gospel. Franklin has won nineteen Grammy Awards in total during her nearly half-century long career (she first charted in 1961), and currently holds the record for most Best Female R&B Vocal Performance wins with eleven to her name, as well as the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy as well. On February 8, 2008 Franklin will be honored as MusiCares Person of the Year. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She has an honorary ‘Doctor of Musicology’ degree from the University of Detroit, an honorary ‘Doctor of Music’ degree by the Berklee College of Music, and an honorary ‘Doctor of Music’ degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1999, she was awarded ‘The National Medal of Arts’ by President Clinton and in 2005, she was awarded ‘The Presidential Medal of Freedom’ by President George W. Bush. She sang at Clinton’s Inaugural gala as well as at Martin Luther King’s funeral and in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #9 on their list of the ‘100 Greatest Artists of All Time’. Her powerful voice and massive vocal range caused the Michigan legislature to declare her voice one of the state’s natural resources.       

Image: Photograph of musician Aretha Franklin          


“If a song’s about something I’ve experienced or that could’ve happened to me it’s good. But if it’s alien to me, I couldn’t lend anything to it. Because that’s what soul is all about.”

“I sing to the realists; people who accept it like it is.”

“I always felt rock and roll was very, very wholesome music.”

“I’m a big woman. I need big hair.”

“I’m the lady next door when I’m not on stage.”

“I believe in the tradition of great music – solid songs, intelligent lyrics, superb accompaniment, and flawless production. That’s how I was brought up, and that’s how I maintain standards.”

“Don’t say Aretha is making a comeback, because I’ve never been away!”

“Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that.”

“I think the hardest thing is losing weight. That’s the hardest thing more than anything else.”

“Trying to grow up is hurting, you know. You make mistakes. You try to learn from them, and when you don’t, it hurts even more.”

“My faith always has been and always will be important to me.”

“I am Aretha, upbeat, straight-ahead, and not to be worn out by men and left singing the blues.”

“I never felt inferior or less than.  I was blessed to grow up in a environment where self-worth was underscored.”

“If I have reached the goal of being a good mother, and have been a guiding light and have inspired my sons to be proud, creative, independent, and productive citizens, then I have reached a priceless pinnacle in parenting.”“Soul music is cultural, and it should forever be enshrined as one of the world’s greatest forms of music. It’s a people, a nation.”

 – Aretha Franklin  (1942- 2018)

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Richard J. Chandler, BA, MA Bachelor of Arts-Music & Master of Arts-Psychology