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'Respect' indeed: Aretha flipped man's song into epic anthem

It's easy to forget that "Respect" wasn't originally Aretha Franklin's song. But the Queen of Soul sang it like it was made for her, and for only her.

She transformed Otis Redding's song into a classic worldwide anthem — especially for the feminist and civil rights movements — making it one of the most recognizable and heard songs of all-time.

Redding's 1965 original focused on a man asking his woman for some respect after he worked a long, hard day. But Franklin flipped the track in 1967, adding new lyrics to the song — including spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T and repeating the line "sock it to me" — becoming one of the most famous sing-a-long hooks in music.

Franklin's version, highlighted by her booming vocals and sharp piano playing, showcased a strong and confident woman demanding respect from her man — and the power of the track connected to the world at large. Her version outperformed the original: It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned Franklin her first pair of Grammy Awards.

"I don't think it's bold at all," Franklin told the Detroit Free Press last year when the song celebrated its 50th anniversary. "I think it's quite natural that we all want respect — and should get it."

Franklin recorded "Respect" in New York when she was about 25 and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn, sang background vocals on the song. The success of the anthem helped Franklin reach new career heights and easily became a signature song for the icon.

It's one of the most celebrated and cover songs ever released. The Library of Congress added "Respect" to the National Recording Registry; it was ranked fifth of Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"; and it was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

"This next song is a song that a girl took away from me," Redding said before a performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

She sure did.

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Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soulful style

With a career spanning six decades, Aretha Franklin -- the Queen of Soul -- saw her share of fashion trends. 

From her empire waist dresses and bouffant hair in the 1960s when her career first started, to the gray felt hat at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, Franklin has made an important mark on the fashion world

>> Read more trending news 

In a 2003 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Franklin shared that her friend, the late singer Luther Vandross had designed two of the gowns on her tour. 

“Oh, Luther is an absolutely fabulous designer! He designs all of his singers' gowns. When I was admiring theirs, he said he would design some for me. And believe me, he is as good with that as he is with his voice. So you know it's the bomb,” Franklin said.

Here is a look at some of her rock steady fashion choices.

1960’s style: Franklin’s early looks included bouffant style hair and empire waist gowns.

Crochet: By the mid-70’s, Franklin was rocking out hippie style in a pantsuit with a crochet poncho, as she did during a 1976 appearance on Soul Train. 

Furs: Franklin loved a good fur -- from cropped to full-length -- in a range of colors and styles, like the white fur jacket she wore over her gown at the 1990 Grammy Awards. 

Fishtails and turbans: In 2008, Franklin wore this black beaded and tulle fishtail style gown with a black turban when she was honored as MusiCares person of the year in Los Angeles, California.

Pearls: Franklin often accessorized her outfits with a single strand of pearls as she did during a 2012 performance in Atlanta. 

The other lemonade: Franklin knew the power of a yellow dress long before Beyonce. She wore this lemony number to the 30th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2007.

Shimmer and shine: Franklin often chose to wear sequins and iridescent fabrics which she sometimes paired with feather wraps and boas. She is pictured here in 2010 during her induction into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.

All in the hat: Franklin wore lots of hats but this one threatened to upstage the President. When Franklin wore a gray felt cloche adorned with a bow and rhinestones by Detroit-based milliner, Luke Song, it received the ultimate respect -- a place in the Smithsonian. It will reportedly end up in the Barack Obama Presidential Library upon its completion in 2021. 

The thrill and the truth of Aretha Franklin

The clarity and the command. The daring and the discipline. The thrill of her voice and the truth of her emotions.

Like the best actors and poets, nothing came between how Aretha Franklin felt and what she could express, between what she expressed and how we responded. Blissful on "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman." Despairing on "Ain't No Way." Up front forever on her feminist and civil rights anthem "Respect."

Franklin, the glorious "Queen of Soul" and genius of American song, died Thursday morning at her home in Detroit of pancreatic cancer. She was 76. Few performers were so universally idolized by peers and critics and so exalted and yet so familiar to their fans. As surely as Jimi Hendrix settled arguments over who was the No. 1 rock guitarist, Franklin ruled unchallenged as the greatest popular vocalist of her time .

She was "Aretha," a name set in the skies alongside "Jimi" and "Elvis" and "John and Paul." A professional singer and pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, she recorded hundreds of songs that covered virtually every genre and she had dozens of hits. But her legacy was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 soul smashes in the late 1960s that brought to the radio an overwhelming intensity and unprecedented maturity, from the wised-up "Chain of Fools" to the urgent warning to "Think."

Acknowledging the obvious, Rolling Stone ranked her first on its list of the top 100 singers. Franklin was also named one of the 20 most important entertainers of the 20th century by Time magazine, which celebrated her "mezzo-soprano, the gospel growls, the throaty howls, the girlish vocal tickles, the swoops, the dives, the blue-sky high notes, the blue-sea low notes. Female vocalists don't get the credit as innovators that male instrumentalists do. They should. Franklin has mastered her instrument as surely as John Coltrane mastered his sax."

The music industry couldn't honor her enough: Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and, in 1987, became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But her status went beyond "artist" or "entertainer" to America's first singer, as if her very presence at state occasions was a kind of benediction. She performed at the inaugural balls of Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and the dedication of Martin Luther King Jr's memorial. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts and President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Franklin's best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang "My Country 'tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's first inauguration. She wore a gray felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an internet sensation and even had its own website. In 2015, she brought Obama and many others to tears with a triumphant performance of "Natural Woman" at a Kennedy Center tribute for the song's co-writer, Carole King.

Her voice transcended age, category and her own life. Franklin endured the exhausting grind of celebrity and personal troubles dating back to childhood. The mother of two boys by age 16 (she later had two more), she struggled with her weight, family problems and financial setbacks. Her strained marriage in the 1960s to then-manager Ted White was widely believed to have inspired her performances on several songs, including "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone," ''Think" and "Ain't No Way." Producer Jerry Wexler nicknamed her "Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows."

Despite growing up in Detroit, and having Smokey Robinson as a childhood friend, Franklin never recorded for Motown Records; stints with Columbia and Arista were sandwiched around her prime years with Atlantic Records. But it was at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was pastor, that Franklin learned the gospel fundamentals that would make her a soul institution.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. The Rev. C.L. Franklin soon moved his family to Buffalo, New York, then to Detroit, where the Franklins settled after the marriage of Aretha's parents collapsed and her mother (and reputed sound-alike) Barbara returned to Buffalo.

C.L. Franklin was among the most prominent Baptist ministers of his time. He recorded dozens of albums of sermons and music and knew such gospel stars as Marion Williams and Clara Ward, who mentored Aretha and her sisters Carolyn and Erma. (Both sisters sang on Aretha's records, and Carolyn also wrote "Ain't No Way" and other songs for Aretha). Music was the family business and performers from Sam Cooke to Lou Rawls were guests at the Franklin house. In the living room, the shy young Aretha awed friends with her playing on the grand piano.

"A wonder child," was how Robinson described her to Franklin biographer David Ritz.

Franklin was in her early teens when she began touring with her father, and in 1956 she released a gospel album through J-V-B Records. Four years later, she signed with Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who called Franklin the most exciting singer he had heard since a vocalist he promoted decades earlier, Billie Holiday. Franklin knew Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. and considered joining his label, but decided it was just a local company at the time.

Franklin recorded several albums for Columbia Records over the next six years. She had a handful of minor hits, including "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" and "Runnin' Out of Fools," but never quite caught on. The label tried to fit into her a hodgepodge of styles, from jazz and show songs to such pop numbers as "Mockingbird," and Franklin struggled to develop the gifts for interpretation and improvisation that she later revealed so forcefully.

"But the years at Columbia also taught her several important things," critic Russell Gersten later wrote. "She worked hard at controlling and modulating her phrasing, giving her a discipline that most other soul singers lacked. She also developed a versatility with mainstream music that gave her later albums a breadth that was lacking on Motown LPs from the same period.

"Most important, she learned what she didn't like: to do what she was told to do."

In 1966, her contract ran out and she jumped to Atlantic, home to such rhythm and blues giants as Ray Charles. Wexler highlighted her piano playing and teamed her with veteran R&B musicians from FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The result rocked as hard as the Rolling Stones while returning her to her gospel roots.

Her breakthrough was so profound that Ebony Magazine called 1967 the year of "'Retha, Rap and Revolt." At a time of protest and division, Franklin's records were signposts to a distant American dream — a musical union of the church and the secular, man and woman, black and white, North and South, East and West. They were produced and engineered by New Yorkers Wexler and Tom Dowd, arranged by Turkish-born Arif Mardin and backed by an interracial gathering of top session musicians.

"In black neighborhoods and white universities, in the clubs and on the charts, her hits came like cannonballs, blowing holes in the stylized bouffant and chiffon Motown sound," Gerri Hirshey wrote in "Nowhere to Run," a history of soul music that was published in 1984. "Here was a voice with a sexual payload that made the doo-wop era, the girl groups, and the Motown years seem like a pimply adolescence."

The difference between Franklin at Columbia and Franklin at Atlantic shows in a pair of songs first performed by Dionne Warwick: "Walk On By" and "I Say a Little Prayer." On "Walk On By," recorded at Columbia, the arrangement stays close to the cool pop and girl group chorus of the original. "I Say a Little Prayer," an Atlantic release, was a gospel workout, from Franklin's church-influenced piano to the call-and-response vocals. From her years at Atlantic and through the rest of her life, she would rarely stick to anyone else's blueprint for a song, often revising her own hits when she performed them on stage.

One of her boldest transformation came on her signature record and first No. 1 hit, "Respect," a horn-led march with a chanting "sock-it-to-me" chorus and the spelled out demand for "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." Franklin had decided she wanted to "embellish" the R&B song written by Otis Redding, whose version had been a modest hit in 1965.

"When she walked into the studio, it was already worked out in her head," Wexler wrote in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004. "Otis came up to my office right before 'Respect' was released, and I played him the tape. He said, 'She done took my song.' He said it benignly and ruefully. He knew the identity of the song was slipping away from him to her."

In a 2004 interview with the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, Franklin was asked whether she sensed in the '60s that she was helping change popular music.

"Somewhat, certainly with 'Respect,' that was a battle cry for freedom and many people of many ethnicities took pride in that word," she answered. "It was meaningful to all of us."

She was rarely off the charts in 1967 and 1968 and continued to click in the early 1970s with the funky "Rock Steady" and other singles and such acclaimed albums as the intimate "Spirit in the Dark." Her popularity faded during the decade, but revived in 1980 with a cameo appearance in the smash movie "The Blues Brothers" and her switch to Arista Records, run by her close friend Clive Davis. Franklin collaborated with such pop and soul artists as Luther Vandross, Elton John, Whitney Houston and George Michael, with whom she recorded a No. 1 single, "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)." Her 1985 album "Who's Zoomin' Who" received some of her best reviews and included such hits as the title track, a phrase she came up with herself, and "Freeway of Love."

If she never quite recaptured the urgency and commercial success of the late '60s, she never relinquished her status as the singer among singers or lost her willingness to test herself, whether interpreting songs by Lauryn Hill and Sean "Diddy" Combs on her acclaimed "A Rose Is Still a Rose" album or filling in at the 1998 Grammy ceremony for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti. She covered songs by Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones and Sam Cooke, but also music by Stephen Sondheim, Bread and the Doobie Brothers. At an early recording session at Columbia, she was asked to sing "Over the Rainbow."

"If a song's about something I've experienced or that could've happened to me, it's good," she told Time magazine in 1968. "But if it's alien to me, I couldn't lend anything to it. Because that's what soul is about — just living and having to get along."

Being "Aretha" didn't keep her from checking out the competition. Billing herself on social media as "The Undisputed Queen of Soul," she lashed out at Beyonce for even suggesting that Tina Turner deserved the title and had sharp words for Mavis Staples and Gladys Knight, among others. She even threatened to sue Warwick in 2017.

Her albums over the past two decades included "So Damn Happy," for which Franklin wrote the gratified title ballad, and "Aretha Sings the Great Diva Classics," featuring covers of hits by Adele and Alicia Keys among others. Franklin's autobiography, "Aretha: From These Roots," came out in 1999. But she always made it clear that her story would continue, and that she would sing it.

"Music is my thing, it's who I am. I'm in it for the long run," she told The Associated Press in 2008. "I'll be around, singing, 'What you want, baby I got it,' having fun all the way."

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For more, visit https://apnews.com/tag/ArethaFranklin

Rapper Juelz Santana pleads guilty to airport gun charge

Rapper Juelz Santana admitted in court Thursday that he tried to get a gun onto a plane at a New York-area airport earlier this year.

Santana, whose real name is LaRon James, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and carrying a weapon on an aircraft. The 36-year-old Totowa resident faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 12.

Santana was arrested in March after security staff at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport found a loaded .38-caliber handgun and nonprescription oxycodone pills in a carry-on bag containing his identification on March 9.

Santana left the area, leaving two bags behind, but turned himself in three days later. He has been free on bail while awaiting trial.

In June, a judge modified his bail so that he could perform concerts in New Hampshire, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. Among the conditions were that Santana's mother accompany him on the trips, that he drive instead of fly and that he not travel with other members of the tour.

While on bail, Santana also was allowed by the court to tape an episode of the VH-1 show "Love and Hip Hop" in Hoboken and New York.

This month, a judge postponed Santana's original trial date of Sept. 4 so the rapper and his attorneys could continue negotiations on a plea deal.

Queen of Soul also leaves a powerful civil rights legacy

Aretha Franklin, who was born and rose to fame during the segregation era and went on to sing at the inauguration of the first black president, often used her talent, fortune and platform to inspire millions of black Americans and support the fight for racial equality.

"She not only provided the soundtrack for the civil rights movement, Aretha's music transcended race, nationality and religion and helped people from all backgrounds to recognize what they had in common," said longtime civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery.

Franklin, who died Thursday at 76, was a close confidante of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a financial lifeline to the civil rights organization he co-founded, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The Queen of Soul's commitment to civil rights was instilled by her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, who also knew King and preached social justice from his pulpit at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.

The church, in fact, was the first place King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Among those in the congregation were Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. It was Jackson who later urged the civil rights leader to "tell them about the dream, Martin" at the March on Washington, where he delivered the oration for which he is most famous.

Franklin recorded "Respect" on Valentine's Day 1967. Black Americans had already won federal legislation outlawing segregation and protecting their voting rights, particularly in the Deep South.

But blacks were still a year away from the Fair Housing Act. And just months after the song was recorded, urban centers, including Franklin's hometown of Detroit, would burn, exposing police brutality and unequal living conditions and job opportunities.

"Her songs were songs of the movement," Andrew Young, the former King lieutenant and U.N. ambassador, said Thursday. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T. ... That's basically what we wanted. The movement was about respect."

The SCLC often struggled financially, but Franklin played a vital role in keeping the movement afloat.

"Almost every time we needed money, there were two people we could always count on: Aretha Franklin and Harry Belafonte," Young said. "They would get together and have a concert, and that would put us back on our feet."

King and Franklin were like spiritual siblings, sharing a bond rooted in their Christian faith, Young said. King would often ask Franklin to sing his favorite songs, "Amazing Grace" or "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." When King was assassinated in 1968, Franklin sang "Precious Lord" at his funeral in Atlanta.

Franklin's "Amazing Grace" was also a comfort to the Rev. Al Sharpton when he was a boy. He recalled that his mother would play the song nonstop in their Brooklyn home after his father left.

As an adult and an activist, Sharpton became friends with the soul singer. He noted her unwavering faith, which she brought with her on stage to every performance.

"Whether it was the White House, Radio City Music Hall or the Apollo Theater, she always did gospel numbers," Sharpton said. "She was unapologetically a hardcore, faith-believing Baptist. At the height of her career, she cut a gospel album. Who does that? Her faith is what motivated her."

Long after the civil rights movement ended, Franklin remained committed to social justice, helping Sharpton as he began his organization, the National Action Network, in New York. She would call Sharpton for updates on the emerging Black Lives Matter movement, asking about such cases as those of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.

"She gave so much to so many people, from Dr. King, to Mandela, to Barack Obama," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend who visited her the day before her death.

Her presence and influence were as valuable to the movement as her financial contributions, Sharpton said.

"To have someone like that that involved and interested ... was a statement," he said. "It gave all the credibility in the world. Others had celebrity, but she had gravity and respect."

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For more, visit https://apnews.com/tag/ArethaFranklin

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Whack is AP's national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous

Recording: Omarosa offered $15,000 a month to be 'positive'

Omarosa Manigault Newman on Thursday released another secret audio recording that she says proves President Donald Trump wanted to silence her after firing her from the White House.

In the recording played on MSNBC, Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump offers Manigault Newman a job earning $15,000 a month. The job wouldn't require her to report to any particular office or have a specific set of duties, other than to speak positively on Trump's behalf as part of his re-election campaign.

Lara Trump, married to Eric Trump, can be heard on the tape noting a New York Times report that suggested Manigault Newman had inside information that could be damaging to Trump.

"It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out," Lara Trump said. "Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can't have, we got to ... "

Manigault Newman interjects: "Oh, God, no."

"Everything, everybody, positive, right?" Lara Trump asks.

The secret recording is one of several Manigault Newman released this week to back up her claims in her new book, "Unhinged."

In a written response Thursday, Lara Trump said her entire family was concerned for Manigault Newman after she was fired "because we had no idea about the basis for her dismissal," but "we still wanted her on our team because we cared so much about her personally."

Lara Trump says that's why she reached out and offered Manigault Newman a job on the re-election campaign "before we knew anything about the gross violations of ethics and integrity during her White House tenure."

Lara Trump says that the latest tape is a "fraud" and that the snippets of discussion aired by MSNBC "took place in numerous phone calls over the course of several weeks."

"Woman to woman, I shared a connection with Omarosa as a friend and a campaign sister, and I am absolutely shocked and saddened by her betrayal and violation on a deeply personal level," the president's daughter-in-law said.

The president on Thursday tweeted: "Thank you for the kind words, Omarosa" in a post that included the link to a video, released by the Republican National Committee, that is a compilation of broadcast interviews in which Manigault Newman makes positive comments about Trump. The RNC released the video on Twitter under the headline, "Guess she forgot about these tapes." MSNBC also played the GOP video for Manigault Newman during its interview with her.

A former contestant on Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice," Manigault Newman was one of Trump's most prominent African-American supporters during his campaign. He hired her to be a White House assistant, earning $179,700 a year as director of communications for the White House office of public liaison.

But she was deeply disliked by many of her colleagues and eventually was ousted by Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, for "significant integrity issues."

According to other recordings released this week, Trump appeared to be in the dark on her December 2017 firing. And Kelly suggested, "If we make this a friendly departure ... you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation."

Manigault Newman alleges there is a tape of Trump using a racial slur while working on "The Apprentice." Trump denies this and has lashed out at his former aide on Twitter, calling her "wacky and deranged," ''not smart" and a "dog."

'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin dies in Detroit at 76

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," ''I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died from pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.

A professional singer and pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher's daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.

She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half century, including 20 that reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," to the wised-up "Chain of Fools" to her unstoppable call for "Respect."

The music industry couldn't honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Fellow singers bowed to her eminence and political and civic leaders treated her as a peer. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a longtime friend, and she sang at the dedication of King's memorial, in 2011. She performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts. President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2005.

Franklin's best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang "My Country 'tis of Thee" at Barack Obama's inauguration. She wore a gray felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an Internet sensation and even had its own website.

Franklin endured the exhausting grind of celebrity and personal troubles dating back to childhood. She was married from 1961 to 1969 to her manager, Ted White, and their battles are widely believed to have inspired her performances on several songs, including "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone," ''Think" and her heartbreaking ballad of despair, "Ain't No Way." The mother of two sons by age 16 (she later had two more), she was often in turmoil as she struggled with her weight, family problems and financial predicaments. Her best known producer, Jerry Wexler, nicknamed her "Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows."

Despite growing up in Detroit, and having Smokey Robinson as a childhood friend, Franklin never recorded for Motown Records; stints with Columbia and Arista were sandwiched around her prime years with Atlantic Records. But it was at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was pastor, that Franklin learned the gospel fundamentals that would make her a soul institution.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. The Rev. C.L. Franklin soon moved his family to Buffalo, New York, then to Detroit. C.L. Franklin was among the most prominent Baptist ministers of his time. Music was the family business and performers from Sam Cooke to Lou Rawls were guests at the Franklin house. In the living room, young Aretha awed Robinson and other friends with her playing on the grand piano.

Franklin was in her early teens when she began touring with her father, and she released a gospel album in 1956 through J-V-B Records. Four years later, she signed with Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who called Franklin the most exciting singer he had heard since a vocalist he promoted decades earlier, Billie Holiday. Franklin knew Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. and considered joining his label, but decided it was just a local company at the time.

Franklin recorded several albums for Columbia Records over the next six years. She had a handful of minor hits, including "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" and "Runnin' Out of Fools," but never quite caught on as the label tried to fit into her a variety of styles, from jazz and show songs to such pop numbers as "Mockingbird." Franklin jumped to Atlantic Records when her contract ran out, in 1966.

"But the years at Columbia also taught her several important things," critic Russell Gersten later wrote. "She worked hard at controlling and modulating her phrasing, giving her a discipline that most other soul singers lacked. She also developed a versatility with mainstream music that gave her later albums a breadth that was lacking on Motown LPs from the same period.

"Most important, she learned what she didn't like: to do what she was told to do."

At Atlantic, Wexler teamed her with veteran R&B musicians from FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, and the result was a tougher, soulful sound, with call-and-response vocals and Franklin's gospel-style piano, which anchored "I Say a Little Prayer," ''Natural Woman" and others.

Of Franklin's dozens of hits, none was linked more firmly to her than the funky, horn-led march "Respect" and its spelled out demand for "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

Writing in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004, Wexler said: "It was an appeal for dignity combined with a blatant lubricity. There are songs that are a call to action. There are love songs. There are sex songs. But it's hard to think of another song where all those elements are combined."

Franklin had decided she wanted to "embellish" the R&B song written by Otis Redding, whose version had been a modest hit in 1965.

"When she walked into the studio, it was already worked out in her head," the producer wrote. "Otis came up to my office right before 'Respect' was released, and I played him the tape. He said, 'She done took my song.' He said it benignly and ruefully. He knew the identity of the song was slipping away from him to her."

In a 2004 interview with the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Franklin was asked whether she sensed in the '60s that she was helping change popular music.

"Somewhat, certainly with 'Respect,' that was a battle cry for freedom and many people of many ethnicities took pride in that word," she answered. "It was meaningful to all of us."

Aretha Franklin's music rising on charts following her death

Aretha Franklin's music quickly climbed the iTunes' charts following her death on Thursday.

Her "30 Greatest Hits" album hit the No. 1 spot, replacing Nicki Minaj's new album, while "Respect" topped the songs' charts.

More songs from Franklin, including "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," ''Think," ''Chain of Fools" and "I Say a Little Prayer," were in the Top 10.

The iTunes charts tracks digital sales and is updated multiple times each day.

Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at age 76. She had battled health issues in recent years and in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.

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For more, visit https://apnews.com/tag/ArethaFranklin

The Latest: Fans mourning Franklin in Detroit, New York

The Latest on the death of Aretha Franklin. (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Fans are mourning Aretha Franklin at some of the places where the legendary singer performed.

Several people, some visibly mourning, walked or drove by New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit Thursday morning after news of Franklin's death was announced. Franklin's voice on some of the songs she made hits streamed from the second floor of a home across the street.

Franklin's father was the pastor at New Bethel Baptist, and it is where she learned the fundamentals of gospel music.

Karen Weary, 62, also walked to the church to pay respects to Franklin after learning of her death. She was "the Queen of Detroit," Weary said.

In New York, fans gathered outside the Apollo Theater in New York, paying tribute to the singer as the marque flashed news of her death: "Honoring Apollo Legend Aretha Franklin 1942 - 2018" and "Rest in Peace Aretha Franklin Queen of Soul."

One fan, Lillian Coggins-Watson drove to the theater from her home on Long Island this morning after hearing the news. She recalled how, as a teenager in North Carolina, there was only a half hour of soul music a day on local radio and she would listen hoping to hear Franklin's voice.

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3:25 p.m.

It's easy to forget that "Respect" wasn't originally Aretha Franklin's song. But the Queen of Soul sang it like it was made for her, and for only her.

She transformed Otis Redding's song into a classic worldwide anthem — especially for the feminist and civil rights movements — making it one of the most recognizable and heard songs of all-time.

Redding's 1965 original focused on a man asking his woman for some respect after he worked a long, hard day. But Franklin flipped the track in 1967, adding new lyrics to the song — including spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T and repeating the line, "sock it to me."

Franklin's version showcased a strong and confident woman demanding respect from her man — and the power of the track connected to the world at large.

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1:24 p.m.

President Donald Trump was among the many mourning the Queen of Soul on Thursday.

During a cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump said: "I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well. She worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific, Aretha Franklin on her passing. She's brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come.

She was given a great gift from God - her voice - and she used it well. People loved Aretha. She's a special woman, so I just want to pass on my warmest best wishes and sympathies to her family."

Franklin performed at the inaugurations of three presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She was not at Trump's inauguration.

11:50 a.m.

Aretha Franklin's music quickly climbed the iTunes' charts following her death on Thursday.

Her "30 Greatest Hits" album hit the No. 1 spot, replacing Nicki Minaj's new album, while "Respect" reached No. 2 on the songs' charts.

More songs from Franklin, including "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," ''Think," ''Chain of Fools" and "I Say A Little Prayer," were in the Top 40.

The iTunes charts tracks digital sales and is updated multiple times each day.

Franklin died pancreatic cancer at age 76. She had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.

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9:55 a.m.

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," ''I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.

The family added: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."

The statement continued:

"We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days,

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Online:

For more, visit https://apnews.com/tag/ArethaFranklin

Danny, Sandy back together again as John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John reunite

“Grease” is the word! To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the rock ‘n’ roll movie musical that took us to the halls of the ‘50s Rydell High, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta show they still go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.

The actor and actress who played Danny and Sandy reunited Wednesday at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills Wednesday, People magazine reported.

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They weren’t the only Pink Ladies and T-Birds who were there. Didi Conn, who was bubble gum pink-haired Frenchie, and Barry Pearl, who was Doody, in the 1978 film were also on the red carpet. 

The on-screen couple also showed they still have their dance moves made famous on the big screen, Entertainment Tonight reported.

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