Child of the Gospel
A Good Life In Detroit
In the early 1950s, Detroit was attracting many black families from the South who moved north to enjoy a higher standard of living. Because of his success in ministering, Reverend Franklin was able to provide a good living for his children in Detroit. Aretha and her family lived in a large house that was provided by the church. The family had a housekeeper, something that was unusual for a black family at the time. Their neighborhood included other successful black business people and their families.
Aretha attended Alger Elementary School and was a good student. When she wasn't at school, Aretha spent many hours teaching herself to play the piano. By listening to jazz records, Aretha taught herself to play along. Aretha's sisters Erma and Carolyn were also talented piano players.
Reverend Franklin was proud of all three of his daughters. He recognized their talents and encouraged them to sing in church. Aretha and her sisters performed in the junior choir at New Bethel Baptist Church. It was in the junior choir that people first began to notice Aretha's powerful voice.
From the moment she was born, Aretha had been exposed to people who used their voices to communicate in powerful ways. Her mother was a gifted gospel singer. Her father used his voice to preach moving sermons in church. Reverend Franklin's career as a preacher was so successful that he began recording his sermons and releasing them on records. During his lifetime, more than seventy of Reverend Franklin's sermons were released on record.