March 25, 2011 marks the one and only Aretha Franklin's 69th birthday. The Queen of Soul is undisputedly one of the most recognizable soul singers of all time. And for good reason, too. There is no one like her.
Last December, fans grew concerned by the news that the 18-time Grammy Award-winning diva underwent surgery for an undisclosed illness and that she was gravely ill.
But leave it to Aretha to shake off those rumors, heading to 'The Wendy Williams Show' and Jet magazine to reveal her sincere sense of humor about giving up her favorite foods and getting in shape.
The Memphis-born vocal powerhouse has been a presidential darling of not one, but three heads of state. She seamlessly returned to her gospel roots and created one of the best-selling gospel albums of all time. And the Apollo Hall of Famer's never been afraid to embrace young people -- collaborating with the likes of Lauryn Hill, Diddy, Jermaine Dupri and, most recently, R. Kelly.
For 50 years, Aretha has touched us to our core with her amazing voice -- which is considered the standard by many singers. The way she delivered lyrics exposes listeners to the full gamut of love, from demanding a little 'Respect' to feeling like a 'Natural Woman.'
She has inspired the likes of Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Fantasia Barrino, Luther Vandross, and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, to name a few. With an expansive catalog of 40 albums already to her credit, this summer the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has big plans to release a new record, launch a tour and get to work on her long-delayed biopic.
Join us in celebrating the life and times of the phenomenal woman born Aretha Louise Franklin.