Aretha Franklin

It ain't easy being queen. There's the gospel career derailed by pregnancy before you reach your midteens and the six-year jazz-pop career that never really gets out of the box. There's the return to roots under the auspices of Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records and the transformation into "Soul Sister Number One." There's a subsequent quickie with Quincy Jones and then a hard fall from favor during the heyday of disco. There's a resurgence guided by the late, great Luther Vandross and pairings with the likes of George Benson, George Michael, and the Eurythmics. And there's more than four decades of nothing but basically singing for your supper every single day.

If you're Aretha Franklin, though, this is no sweat. Over the course of 40 years of singing for her supper, she's scored a number of immortal hits, including "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and "Chain of Fools." Of course, she was blessed with the voice of a choir full of angels, so her ascendancy was virtually assured. Add to that 18 Grammys and 20 number one R&B hits, and it's clear Aretha will likely reign forever. This Tuesday, she returns to Hard Rock Live, pushing a new LP, A Woman Falling Out of Love, and ensuring we all never forget that she and she alone is "the Queen of Soul."

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John Hood