Prepare to show some major ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ for this "Natural Woman" as she takes the main stage during the 25th annual Saturday in the Park fest July 4.
In the meantime, check out these little known facts about the Queen of Soul so you can be the most knowledgeable fan in the crowd (along with everyone else who read this.)
The background: Aretha Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, the fourth of five children born to a Baptist preacher and a gospel singer (maybe where she got those famous pipes?). Before she was 5, Franklin’s family moved to Detroit where she quickly rose to fame in the Motown community after singing at her father’s church.
1. Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. In comparison, pop star Miley Cyrus has received zero Grammys and sold a meager 15.9 million albums, according to billboard.com.
2. In 1987, she was the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other famous females inducted later include last year’s SITP headliner Bonnie Raitt, Gladys Knight and Madonna.
3. Rolling Stone magazine gave Franklin the top spot on their list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Let’s be honest, that is a list of musical icons and this year’s SITP headliner took the honors. It’s no coincidence that one of her biggest hits was all about respect.
4. No fancy-schmancy music lessons needed for her, Franklin learned how to play piano by ear as a child. Isn’t that the sign of a prodigy or something? See No. 5.
5. Related: She received honorary doctorates from Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, the Berklee College of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Michigan for her contributions to music. How many Ivy League doctorate degrees do YOU have? Thought so.
6. The Queen of Soul meets “The Blues Brothers”? That’s right. Franklin made a cameo as a waitress in the 1980 comedy musical starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
7. In October 2014, she set fire to the rain by being the first woman to have 100 songs on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart after achieving success with her cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep.” The cover debuted at number 47 on the chart. Rumor has it, Aretha is the real deal. We’ll just have to keep on chasing pavement because we’ll never find someone like you again, Aretha. OK, enough with the bad Adele puns. (Bad Adele pun count for those playing along: four.)
8. In 1989, the state of Michigan officially labeled Franklin’s voice a “natural resource.” This fact makes us all about going green and protecting the planet’s resources. Actually, we’re into that kind of thing anyway, but this reaffirms it. Save the Earth!
9. Franklin’s voice is no doubt heavenly and this fact proves it. In 2014, asteroid 249516 Aretha was named in her honor. Really makes all those sandwiches that are named after celebs seem way less cool now, huh?
10. Even the president loves Aretha (and why wouldn’t he?) She performed at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2006, singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” She also was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sing it for America!