Money & Power

Aretha Franklin Leaves Behind an Enduring Legacy-and a Massive Fortune

The Queen of Soul earned a queenly sum.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES / DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS
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In 1967, Pervis Spann placed a crown on the head of Aretha Franklin at the Regal Theatre in Chicago, and declared her the Queen of Soul. Today, after what appears to have been an extended bout of ill health, the Queen has passed away at age 76, the Associated Press confirms.

Easily one of the most influential singers of all time, Franklin started her career in the church where her father served as preacher, recording some of her earliest tracks at the astonishing age of 14. She rose to stardom in the 1960s after signing first with Columbia Records and then Atlantic Records. She would go on to record 42 studio albums and win 18 Grammy Awards, including eight consecutive Grammy Awards for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance. Over the course of her career she also charted 73 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with songs like "Respect," "Chain of Fools," and "Think", the most of any female artist ever and the ninth-most of all artists. In 1987 she became the first woman ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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A consummate performer, Franklin sang at three presidential inaugural ceremonies (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama) and at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Along with over 50 years worth of sold-out concerts across the globe, Billboard estimates that the star sold 8.8 million albums during the Nielsen Music era. However, the exact sum of the diva's earnings may remain something of a mystery—Franklin regularly demanded advance payment for performances in cash, according to The New Yorker, a practice that she held over from her early career when she saw performers like Ray Charles and B.B. King not get paid for gigs they'd already performed. Nonetheless, tracking site celebritynetworth.com estimates Franklin's net worth at $60 million.

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Though she had begun touring in her early teens, the star's performance schedule was slightly curtailed for quite some time—for over 30 years Franklin refused to fly due to her anxiety, saving her voice for locations she could travel to via tour bus. After several years of semi-public health issues—she underwent surgery in 2010 for an undisclosed issue and was forced to cancel several performances due to exhaustion and order from her doctor—last year, the icon announced her plans to retire altogether, saying she would perform at “some select things." Her last appearance was at the Elton John AIDS Foundation fundraiser in November 2017.

Sources close to the singer announced on the morning of August 13th that she was "gravely ill" and asked for prayers on the star's behalf. Following the news, there was an outpouring of well-wishes from fans and other musicians who were inspired by Franklin's groundbreaking work.

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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