Aretha Franklin's Best Quotes on Life, Love, and Music

The Queen of Soul has never held back.

aretha franklin quotes
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Born in 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Aretha Franklin found success with the 1961 hit "Won't Be Long," which was her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

After 73 Hot 100 entries, 16 top 10 pop singles, 96 R&B chart entries, and 20 number-one R&B singles, Franklin became the most charted female artist in Billboard history. She also won 18 Grammy Awards, sold over 75 million records worldwide, and became the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sadly, on August 16, Franklin passed away at the age of 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer, according to her representative.

Over the years, Franklin has spoken on the record about various topics, including her musical influences and her personal life. These are some of the funniest, most inspiring, and most revealing quotes from the Queen of Soul.

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Queen Of Soul Portrait
Getty ImagesMichael Ochs Archives
On Respect for All

“Everybody wants respect,” she said to Rolling Stone in 2014. “In their own way, three-year-olds would like respect, and acknowledgment, in their terms.”

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Harvard University 363rd Commencement Ceremony
Getty ImagesPaul Marotta
On Body Image

"Who hasn’t had a weight issue? If not the body, certainly the big head!" she jokingly told People in 2007.

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BET Honors 2014: Show
Getty ImagesLarry French/BET
On the Power of Women

"As women, we do have it," she told Elle in 2016. "We have the power. We are very resourceful. Women absolutely deserve respect. I think women and children and older people are the three least-respected groups in our society."

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Mandela Day: A 46664 Celebration Concert - Show
Getty ImagesMichael Loccisano
On Parenting

"My children have been wonderful. Times when they have been down, they lifted me up," Franklin told Ebony in 1995. "But once they pass a certain age, their independence begins to kick in ... you have to learn when to let go. And that's not easy."

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The Andy Williams Show
Getty ImagesNBC
On "Respect" and "Natural Woman"

"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," Franklin told Time in 2017.

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Aretha Franklin at the American Music Award
Getty ImagesTime & Life Pictures
On Her Music Contemporaries

On Beyoncé, she proclaimed to the Toronto Star, "She is a worker, like all Virgos, and I appreciate that. Bootylicious. Oh yes, I want to get me some of that." In that same interview, she shot down rumors of a feud with Patti LaBelle. "There is no truth to the rumors we were fighting at the White House. That’s all made up stuff. We love each other," she said.

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Aretha Franklin Portrait Session
Getty ImagesHarry Langdon
On Love

"Falling out of love is like losing weight," she said to The Independent in 2011. "It's a lot easier putting it on than taking it off."

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Aretha Franklin Portrait
Getty ImagesMichael Ochs Archives
On Her Illustrious Career

"We didn't have music videos. You weren't an overnight sensation. You had to work at it and learn your craft: how to take care of your voice, how to pace your concerts, all that trial and error. I paid my dues, I certainly did," Franklin told Elle.

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US-KENNEDY CENTER HONORS
Getty ImagesMOLLY RILEY
On Her Famous Coat-Dropping Performance

"I wasn’t sure about the air factor onstage, and air can mess with the voice from time to time. And I didn’t want to have that problem that evening. It’s been a long time since I’ve done Kennedy Center, and I wanted to have a peerless performance," Franklin explained to Vogue in 2016. "Once I determined that the air was all right while I was singing, I said, “Let’s get out of this coat! I’m feeling it. Let’s go!"

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Photo of Aretha FRANKLIN
Getty ImagesDavid Redfern
On Her Father's Influence on her Music

"I guess most people call it soul. This is something I got from growing up in my father's [The Reverend C. L. Franklin] church, singing with him and hearing his sermons every Sunday. You hear him preach just one sermon and you'll know that he's a past master of soul," she told Ebony in 1964.

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"Clive Davis: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives" Premiere - 2017 Tribeca Film Festival
Getty ImagesTaylor Hill
On Challenges

"It's the rough side of the mountain that's the easiest to climb; the smooth side doesn't have anything for you to hang on to," she told Ebony in 1964.

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