Aretha Franklin's honors through the years

The Detroit News
Singer Aretha Franklin and her son, Kecalf Cunningham, stand under Aretha Franklin Way, a street renamed in her honor, in Detroit, June 8, 2017. A portion of Madison Street near Comerica Park will have both names.

Aretha Franklin received many honors in her storied career, starting with her nicknames. She was first called “the new Queen of the Blues” (when Dinah Washington was still alive and claimed the title), then “Lady Soul,” then the Queen of Soul, which stuck.

Some of her achievements and honors over the years:

  • Charted 43 Top 40 singles
  • First woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
  • 18 Grammy Awards.
Aretha Franklin gives a thumbs up after receiving an honorary Doctor of Arts degree at Harvard University in 2014.
  • Grammy “Legend” in 1991.
  • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
  • Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh declared Feb. 16, 1968, “Aretha Franklin Day” in the city.
  • Gov. James Blanchard and the Michigan Legislature named Franklin the state’s “greatest natural resource” in 1986.
  • Kennedy Center Honor in 1994.
  • When opera singer Luciano Pavarotti took ill in 1998 and couldn’t appear on the live Grammy telecast, she stepped in and sang the aria “Nessun Dorma” in his place and in his musical key.
  • Detroit News Michiganian of the Year, 2003
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2005.
Aretha L. Franklin and President George W. Bush at the Freedom Awards Ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. on November 9, 2005.
  • In 2006, she was the first female artist to earn the United Negro College Fund’s Award of Excellence. 
  • The Recording Academy (the Grammys) named her MusiCares Person of the Year in 2008, honoring her “artistic and philanthropic achievements.”
  • Doctor of Arts — Harvard University (2014); Doctor of Music — Princeton University (2012), Case Western Reserve University (2011), Yale University (2010), Brown University (2009), Berklee College of Music (2006), New England Conservatory of Music (1995), University of Michigan (1987). Doctor of Humane Letters, Wayne State University (1990). Doctor of Law, Bethune-Cookman College (1975).
  • Detroit renamed a portion of Randolph, between Brush and Witherell, Aretha Franklin Way on June 8, 2017.
  • Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan awarded Franklin the Key to the City on June 10, 2017.

This year, Franklin was the first ever recipient of the Detroit News Michiganians of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to Detroit.