Aretha Franklin makes history with posthumous Pulitzer Prize win

Aretha Franklin has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize special citation, becoming the first individual woman to earn the prize since it was first awarded in 1930.

The Pulitzer board said the award was given to the Queen of Soul for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.

Franklin died on August 16 at her home in Detroit from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.

The superstar was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when she entered the prestigious organisation in 1987.

The Pulitzer board most recently awarded a special citation prize in 2010 to Hank Williams, the country music legend who died in 1953.

From the arts world, other recipients include Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, George Gershwin, Ray Bradbury, William Schuman, Milton Babbitt, Scott Joplin, Roger Sessions, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Franklin’s inclusion reconfirms the impact her music — and voice — continues to have on the world.

She became a cultural icon and genius of American song, considered by many to be the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her voice transcended age, category and her own life.

She was a professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens and a superstar by her mid-20s.

Aretha Franklin (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Raised in Detroit, she recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over half a century.

But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of Top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, to the wised-up Chain Of Fools to her unstoppable call for Respect, transforming Otis Redding’s song into a classic worldwide anthem — especially for the feminist and civil rights movements — making it one of the most recognisable and heard songs of all-time.

She sold millions of albums and won countless awards, including 18 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

She performed at the inaugurations of presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and even sang at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and at the dedication of Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial.

Rolling Stone put Franklin at the head of its list of the Top 100 singers and she was named one of the 20 most important entertainers of the 20th century by Time magazine.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Michelle Obama calls Beyonce ‘queen’ in video celebrating singer’s Netflix film

A question of taste: Katie Kim

Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards reveals she suffered from severe panic attacks

Walking On Cars revved up and ready to go for second album

More in this Section

Jason Momoa hopes to raise awareness of recycling by shaving off his beard

Michelle Obama calls Beyonce ‘queen’ in video celebrating singer’s Netflix film

It's a Good Friday line-up for the Late Late

Rylan Clark-Neal joins Zoe Ball to host Strictly’s It Takes Two


Lifestyle

This is why you really should go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day

Ask Audrey: My neighours are sound-proofing their bedroom - does that make them pervs?

How Ireland's only female executioner got the job

Scene and heard: This week's entertainment news

More From The Irish Examiner