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Queen of Soul holds court on the First Coast

Her microphone is her scepter.  Her hairstyle of choice, her crown.  While thousands of aspiring singers enter the realm of soul music year after year, she remains the Queen hands down.

She performs around the world for heads of state, modern-day monarchs, and sell-out crowds.  This week, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Aretha Franklin brings her soulful blend of rhythm and blues to St. Augustine.

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Franklin began singing at home, and soon impressed the congregation at her father's church.  As a teenager, those gospel roots helped her to land her very own record deal with Columbia Records, and helped to launch her professional career. 

While many of us know her as the ultimate 'diva' today, one may consider Franklin the quintessential child star.  Growing up in the public eye, fans have watched her manage the early loss of her mother, teen pregnancies, marital strife, the loss of her mentor/father, record label changes, financial troubles, and struggles with the paparazzi and her appearance.

Still, with all of her rough patches, Franklin has amassed a wealth of greatness, including one of the most revered nicknames in popular music.

She holds the distinction of being the only singer at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama.  An achievement so relevant, that the Smithsonian Institution wants to exhibit the hat she wore during her performance. 

She is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's first female inductee.  She is a multiple Grammy Award winner with 18 to date, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

She was the voice of reason called upon by the nation's leaders in the midst of turmoil during the Civil Rights Movement.

She has reached the Billboard "Top 40" nearly 50 times with a parade of hits since the early 1960's, and Rolling Stone magazine has dubbed Franklin as The Greatest Singer of All Time.

Teaming up with everyone from legendary artists like Frank Sinatra and Luther Vandross, to contemporary artists like John Legend and Trey Songz, many may be surprised to learn that Franklin taught herself to play the piano as a child.

Now, more than fifty-four years later, Franklin is still recording and touring, remaining resilient, ready, and ever regal.  Next week, she will celebrate her 68th birthday, but today fans across Northeast Florida can celebrate her presence.

For ticket and show information, visit Ticketmaster online.

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