The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery honored Aretha Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize during its inaugural American Portrait Gala in November 2015.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognizes the life of acclaimed singer and musician Aretha Franklin. Her portrait will be installed tomorrow morning in the museum’s In Memoriam space on the first floor, and it will remain on display through Aug. 22. Media are invited to view and photograph the portrait during a special open house beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942, Aretha Franklin influenced the course of American soul and pop music. With her signature voice—unmistakably familiar for its depth, range and emotional power—Franklin rose to prominence on the American music scene after her first commercial success in the late 1960s. Merging her childhood interests in gospel singing—both of her parents were gospel singers and her father was a renowned preacher—with jazz, rhythm and blues, and pop music, Franklin came to be known as the “Queen of Soul,” belting out a string of early number-one hits, including “Respect” (1967) and “Since You’ve Been Gone” (1968).
Considered to be one of the greatest singers of her generation, Franklin is the winner of 18 Grammy Awards and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987). In 2015, the National Portrait Gallery honored Franklin with the Portrait of a Nation Prize, timed with her celebrated performance at the inaugural American Portrait Gala for which she performed several of her hits, including “Respect,” “Freedom” and “Chain of Fools.”
In this poster, legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser uses his characteristic kaleidoscope palette and innovative geometric forms to conveys the creative energy of Franklin’s performances. This color lithographic poster was created in 1968, the same year the National Portrait Gallery opened its doors to the public.
National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists, whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F Streets NW, Washington, DC. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at npg.si.edu, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and the museum’s blog.