It's not for nothing that Aretha Franklin has been crowned the Queen of Soul.
"Aretha has everything – the power, the technique," singer and actor Mary J. Blige said in a profile of Franklin for Rolling Stone magazine, which ranked her number one on its list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time on Nov. 27, 2008. "And she has total confidence; she does not waver at all."
Franklin, who has been an inspiration for Blige, was inspired by her aunt Clara Ward, a famous devotional singer. A largely self-taught musical prodigy, she recorded her first album at age 14, titled The Gospel Soul of Aretha Franklin, eventually becoming a star of pop and R&B and winning 18 Grammy Awards.
She also sang at the funeral of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was her minister father's friend; at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; and at the funeral of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Franklin also was the only singer invited to perform at President Obama's 2009 inauguration.
"When you watch her work, you can see why Aretha is who she is," Blige wrote. "It's beautiful to see, because it helps people with a lack of confidence in their ability, like myself. I look her and think, 'I need a piece of that. Whatever that is.'"
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(Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)