The university announced this year’s honorees today (May 29) on its Web site.
The list includes Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (Doctor of Laws), Former President George H.W. Bush (Doctor of Laws) and novelist Isabel Allende (Doctor of Letters).
Franklin, “The Queen of Soul,” was cited for her “amazing vocal range and flexibility and unmatched musicianship.”
Her iconic arrangement of Otis Redding’s song “Respect” became a musical sensation and an anthem for the feminist and civil rights movements, the site noted.
In addition to her many hit records spanning five decades, Franklin, 72, was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
She also received Kennedy Center Honors in 1994 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005. In all, she’s won 18 Grammy Awards.
Franklin’s father was a traveling preacher who was well-known in gospel circles. Aretha began her gospel career at 14. Her first album, Songs of Faith, was released in 1956.
When she turned 18, she made the move into popular music inspired by the works of Sam Cooke. She was signed to Columbia Records in 1960 and released her first album Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo a year later.
In the 1960s, Franklin helped define R&B and soul music with a string of hits.
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