Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, is justifiably hailed as one of the greatest singers in the history of American music. We're celebrating her life with photos from throughout her career.

Born in Memphis in 1942, her family moved to Detroit when her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, became pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church. As he rose to fame within the gospel community for his fiery sermons and singing, his prodigiously talented daughter was at his side – learning from him and the many gospel and soul stars who were family friends.

She was only 14 when she released her first album, Songs of Faith. When she turned 18, she told her father that she wanted to record secular music, and signed with Columbia. Although she had a little success, most notably with 1964's "Runnin' Out of Fools," her label thought of her more as a supper-club jazz singer in the mode of Dinah Washington or Lena Horne, and the material she was given didn't properly suit her talents.

 

Her tenure with Columbia ended in 1967 and she signed with Atlantic, where Jerry Wexler understood that the key to bringing out the best in her was to bring out the gospel influences, including her two-fisted piano playing. His plan worked and, beginning with "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" b/w "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," she went on to an astonishingly successful career, with dozens of pop and R&B hits, 11 gold or platinum albums (excluding compilations), 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Check below to see pictures of Aretha Franklin from 1961 until 2017.