The epitome of 60s soul, Aretha Franklin has many contemporaries but few peers. Only Otis Redding comes close to matching her influence and sheer artistry. Born in Memphis, Franklin grew up in Detroit where her father was a pastor; she sang in his church and was a piano prodigy. Franklin signed for Columbia Records in the early 60s where she produced a number of records that showcased her talents; but the label was unsure what to do with Franklin and typically played it safe with standards and gospel songs that showed little of the screaming soul-diva within. Her greatest success came when she moved to Atlantic Records, where she was given more artistic liberty and where she scored her greatest hits. A remarkable singer capable of everything from slow-burn ballads to screaming gospel shakedowns, Franklin is known for her strong portrayals of women, particularly in her definitive, cross-gender take on Redding’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T and her commanding, first-person version of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. It is no exaggeration to say that she has one of the greatest voices in musical history; often stunning, and occasionally, simply breathtaking.