Behind The Scenes Of Aretha Franklin’s Life: How The ‘Queen Of Soul’ Learned To Be A Mother While Being A Child Herself


August 20, 2018 14:37 By Fabiosa

Aretha Franklin, the iconic figure in the music industry and the beloved Queen of Soul, would be remembered by millions through her bright talent and immortal legacy.  

Among the mysteries of her life, the one that had always generated greater attention was her role as a mother.


READ ALSO: Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul', Dies Following A Long Battle With Cancer At The Age Of 76

Difficulties of an early motherhood

Aretha had to learn to be an adult earlier than most people do. She welcomed her first two sons when she was a child herself – at 12 and 14.

Despite the fact that Franklin always kept her life private, some details of her early years have been revealed.

In his book, Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin, David Ritz wrote that while the singer never officially confirmed who was the father of her elder son, he had all reasons to suggest it was her ‘school love’, Donald Burke.

Aretha gave birth to her first child at 12. Then, she went back to school to continue her study. According to her teachers, Franklin was a good student and very smart girl.


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Two years after giving birth to her first son, Clarence, Aretha welcomed her second baby, son Edward. She was 14.

READ ALSO: Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul', Dies Following A Long Battle With Cancer At The Age Of 76

It was not easy for the yesterday’s schoolgirl to raise two kids, as she was a child herself. Once, Franklin confessed:

I still wanted to get out and hang with my friends. So, I wanted to be in two places at the same time. But my grandmother helped me a lot, and my sister, and my cousin.


New generation of young female singers

It was not easy for the young woman, plus, a mother-of-two, to focus on her music career at that time. Franklin’s sister, Erma, explained that Aretha had to drop school to work on her music, which, ultimately, led her “to live the life of silent suffering.

Erma said in the book:

We were part of that generation of young female singers who definitely sacrificed time with their kids to attend to their careers. We did so knowingly.


Queen of Soul

Franklin had a tough childhood. Her mother left the family when Aretha was just 6.

READ ALSO: To My Beloved Friend: Barbra Streisand Remembers Late Aretha Franklin With A Touching Tribute

Being a young mother, Franklin took a lot of effort to keep her life private. In his book, Ritz wrote there were stories of her being a victim of domestic violence, and she didn’t like that. She also didn’t want people to think about her as if she was a victim.  

She didn’t like the image of her being a beaten woman and didn’t want to be seen as a tragic blues figure.

It’s not fair to blame the singer for her desire to keep her personal life private. In any case, she really deserved acknowledgement for her significant contribution to the world of music. She retired in 2017, to spend more time with the family. Prior to this decision, Franklin released her last album.

The Queen of Soul passed away at the age of 76, after a lasting battle with cancer. But you know, people say that true legends never die. That is so true when it comes to the incredible and one-of-the-kind Aretha Franklin. She was a music icon and will be missed by millions.

READ ALSO: Shirley Temple's Childhood Friend Recalls Memories Of The Late Actress: "She Was Extremely Bright And Very, Very Talented"