Aretha Franklin

First woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

‘I didn’t think my songs would become anthems for women. But I’m delighted.’

The first songs I sang in church were “Jesus Be a Fence Around Me” and “I Am Sealed.” I was around 8 or 9. My dad asked me to sing that day. I didn’t want to sing in front of an audience. But he heard the possibilities and he continued to encourage me, and thank God he did. Singing at a concert vs. singing in the church is like singing no place else, really. You have an ethereal feeling there. The house of God is the house of God. But all music is motivating, inspiring, transporting.

I didn’t think my songs would become anthems for women. But I’m delighted. Women probably immediately feel compassion and relate to the lyrics. We can all learn a little something from each other, so whatever people can take and be inspired by where my music is concerned is great.

When we recorded “Respect” and “Natural Woman” in the studio, everyone—the musicians and singers—stood up. We were on air, really happy about the takes. My producer at the time, Jerry Wexler, a VP of Atlantic Records, said, “Let’s wait until tomorrow night this time. If we feel the same way tomorrow, if we’re still standing on air about it, we probably have a hit.” He would still be walking on air to this day.

Women have done well in the music industry, with the exception of those male bastions: the executive offices. We have not had a female executive run any major label in the U.S. or anyplace else that I know of right now.

My cousin once told me not to take other people so seriously. You know, she was right. Especially where men are concerned. And I don’t think women need to do anything other than what they’re doing right now, and that’s moving forward. Moving to the forefront. Moving into the executive offices. Moving into the areas that men have held captive. We’re coming.

Franklin has won 18 Grammy Awards. Watch Aretha Franklin’s performance of “Rock of Ages”.

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