Aretha Franklin is the daughter of the Rev. C.L. Franklin. Her father was born in Mississippi and she was born in Memphis, Tenn. The family made its way to Detroit.
Aretha's father was a famous preacher but also an accomplished singer. She was steeped in gospel, and she brought that fervor and spiritual depth to her singing when she crossed over to become a star of popular music, the Queen of Soul. Of course, soul is — along with rock, blues, and jazz as well — infused with gospel. Aretha's singing, her regal stature, her poise, control and her expressive fire, all of it seems to be rooted in her church upbringing.
In recent years she's put her stamp on popular tunes by Adele, the Rolling Stones, Sinead O'Connor and others. Franklin's real gift has always been her ability to transform someone else's song and make it seem like it was written explicitly for her, and that her version is the definitive one. Think of what she did with Otis Redding's "Respect" or with Carole King's "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." But Franklin wrote her own hits as well. The massive and funky "Rock Steady" is her own creation.
Aretha Franklin performs at Mohegan Sun Arena, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, Thursday, March 23, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39. 860-226-7711 and mohegansun.com.