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19 Times Aretha Franklin Proved She Was The Greatest Of All Time

Aretha Franklin died on August 16, 2018 — but she'll be the Queen of Soul forever. Here are 19 legendary songs and performances that prove it.

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Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, TN.

She was raised by her mom Barbara, a pianist and singer, and her preacher dad, C.L.. Her parents separated when she was a child, and her mother died when she was only nine. Franklin dropped out of high school in her sophomore year, but had learned how to play piano by ear at home.

1. 1956: At age 14, Aretha released her first album, a gospel record called Songs of Faith. Here's "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood."

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbp3JxwH704

2. In 1960 Aretha's first Columbia single, "Today I Sing the Blues," was released.

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3. In 1961, Aretha released her first secular album and "It Won't Be Long" became her first Billboard Hot 100 single. She was 19.

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4. Here she is in 1964 performing "Running Out of Fools" — her first top ten R&B chart single.

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5. Throughout the mid-'60s, Franklin was a frequent performer on Shindig!, here she sings her version of "Shoop Shoop Song."

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6. And here, also from 1965, her energetic performance of "Mockingbird."

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7. In 1967, Aretha left Columbia and signed with Atlantic Records, releasing her first single to hit the pop top ten (and her first R&B number one), "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)." Here she is performing the legendary song in Amsterdam a year later.

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Sweat never looked so good!

8. 1967 is also when Aretha released her version of Otis Redding's "Respect," flipping a frankly creepy song about a man demanding more respect from his wife into a feminist and civil right anthem. It also became her first Billboard #1. Here's an incredible performance of that song from the era.

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9. (Doing even better versions of dude's songs was kind of an Aretha thing — here she is doing "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and wiping the floor with Jagger IMO)

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10. In 1968, she performed "Precious Lord" at Martin Luther King's funeral — through unimaginable pain, her greatness still shines through.

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11. I love this clip from 1969. Aretha and Andy Williams had both released versions of "Gentle On My Mind," so they performed together. It's not a competition, but... she obviously won.

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12. By 1970, Aretha was rocking the 'fro while performing "I Say A Little Prayer" on TV.

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13. An in 1972, Aretha was fully on the funk train, performing one of her best and perhaps one of her most underrated songs — "Rock Steady" — on Soul Train.

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14. Just to show em she's still got that range, here she is bringing the house down with "Amazing Grace" — with Rev. James Cleveland on piano.

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15. Aretha kicked off the '80s with a performance of "Think" in The Blues Brothers.

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16. Throughout the '80s, Aretha had a string of hits — and also did the vocals for the theme song to A Different World (!).

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17. Not interested in leaving a single decade behind, here's Aretha performing "I Dreamed A Dream" at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

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18. She kept up the whole "highlight of the inauguration" trend by wearing this hat at Barack Obama's 2009 ceremony.

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19. And just three years ago, in 2015, she made Obama cry (ok, and also made me cry every single time I watch this video even though I've seen it a dozen times by now) with her tribute to Carole King at the Kennedy Center Honors.

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Performing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" as part of a tribute to Carole King during the Kennedy Center honors, 2015.

Rest in power, Queen.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images