Aretha Franklin | Rolling Stone Music | Lists

100Greatest Singers of All Time

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Aretha Franklinby Mary J. Blige

Born March 25th, 1942 Key Tracks "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," "Think," "Chain of Fools" Influenced Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Aaron Neville, Annie Lennox You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing. Aretha has everything —  the power, the technique. She is honest with everything she says. Everything she's thinking or dealing with is all in the music, from "Chain of Fools" to "Respect" to her live performances. And she has total confidence; she does not waver at all. I think her gospel base brings that confidence, because in gospel they do not play around —  they're all about chops, who has the vocal runs. This is no game to her. As a child, I used to listen to Aretha's music because my mom played "Do Right Woman" and "Ain't No Way" every single day. I would see my mother cry when she listened to those songs, and I'd cry too. Then I discovered her on my own with the Sparkle soundtrack. I must have played "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" 30 times in a row; eventually, I connected the dots to that voice my mom was listening to. Even the way she pronounces words is amazing: In "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," when she sings, "Many say that I'm too young" —  the way she says "I'm," you can almost see her saying it, like she's all in your face, but you're still right with her. You can really visualize her hands when she sings, "You're tying both of my hands," on "Ain't No Way" —  it's the powerful way she hits the word "both." When you watch her work, you can see why Aretha is who she is. When we did the song "Don't Waste Your Time" on my album Mary, she just went in there and ate that record like Pac-Man. She could be doing a church vocal run, and it would turn into some jazz-space thing, something I never encountered before. You'd say, "Where did that come from? Where did she find that note?" It's beautiful to see, because it helps people with a lack of confidence in their ability, like myself. I look at her and think, "I need a piece of that. Whatever that is."
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Comments (16)

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filopelor92
June 17, 2010 4:27 P.M. EDT
i think you must have smoked the day you had made this....not including freddie in the greatest singers of all times you offended the music and that's all

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micheku
June 25, 2010 1:18 A.M. EDT
freddie is #18. did you even go through the list
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Somllow
June 24, 2010 4:46 A.M. EDT
WHERE IS EDDIE VEDDER? Kurt Cobain is in the list?? Oh my GOD!! You must be drunk when you do this list, look, if Kurt Cobain is in 46º, so Eddie Vedder must be on top 10 or top 20. AND WHERE IS CHRIS CORNELL MY SON? One of the best rock voices in the world, must be on top 10.

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PeteCabrina
June 26, 2010 5:46 A.M. EDT
Funny but out of all these rock singers you mention Somllow you forget the one who tops them all which is Mike Patton who still does not get anywhere near the credit and recognition he deserves. He has more versatile vocal skills than just about any singer in this top 100, with a huge discography of...Read More

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bdyerb
June 28, 2010 11:51 P.M. EDT
YEAH! Agree with PeteCabrina. arguably, the only rock singer as versatile as freddy mercury IS Mike Patton. Rolling Stone realy screwed up with this list.

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mikewezyk
July 9, 2010 7:27 P.M. EDT
how can bono possibly be 32 he should be number 1. this list is bs none of the greatest singers are on here

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