Aretha Franklin: Museum Resources

Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Museum celebrates her legacy with a number of artifacts illustrative of her career.

Check out highlights of her collection below from the Museum's Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power exhibit, and click here for a photo slideshow of the rest of her collection.

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I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You Album Proof Sheet, 1967

Gift of Atlantic Recording Corporation


After Aretha Franklin’s contract with Columbia Records expired, Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records signed her with the intention of pairing her gospel-honed voice with the burgeoning southern soul movement. Wexler had a strategy: “My attitude was simply to get some great songs, some great players, put Aretha back on piano and let the lady wail.”

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Southern Christian Leadership Conference Benefit Concert Poster, 1967 

Cleveland, Ohio

Collection of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

 

Aretha Franklin was a leading public figure in the fight for equal rights for all Americans. Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was one of the most prominent preachers in the country and a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Aretha Franklin Appointment Book, 1981  

Courtesy of a Private Collector

 

On June 29, Aretha Franklin took detailed notes in a meeting with Arista Records’ Clive Davis, discussing the renegotiation of her contract with the record label.

 

 

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“Rhythm of the Freeway” Demo Cassette

Courtesy of a Private Collector

This demo cassette contains an early version of “Freeway of Love,” which hit Number Three in 1985.

Aretha Franklin Tape Box, c. 1975

Courtesy of a Private Collector

This demo tape, with a selection of songs sent to Aretha Franklin for her consideration, includes “When the Night,” a Paul McCartney composition featured on his 1973 album, Red Rose Speedway. Franklin biographer David Ritz said that McCartney wrote “Let It Be” with Franklin in mind. Franklin recorded her version of the song first, but held back its release until after the Beatles’ release of the smash hit.

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