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Happy 71st Birthday, Aretha Franklin

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Aretha Franklin Performs In
Aretha Franklin
Photo Credit: Michael Rowe

All hail the Queen of Soul!

Today, Aretha Franklin blows out 71 candles.

To date, the ESSENCE Festival alumna has earned an impressive 18 Grammy awards and released more than 41 albums. During Franklin's 50-plus year career, she's brought home a number of major awards including an honorary doctorate from Princeton University in 2012.

The singer is also no stranger to headlines. Last year, Franklin caught everyone's attention when she announced her engagement to William 'Willie' Wilkerson only to call it off weeks later. Franklin claimed she and Wilkerson were moving too fast.

In recent months, Franklin has turned her attention to casting an upcoming biopic about her life. Although a lead has yet to be chosen, Franklin's been very adamant about selecting Halle Berry for the part despite Berry's public apprehension. She's also partnering with music executive Clive Davis for her upcoming album.

Send your happy birthday wishes to the legend who brought us hits like "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," "Chain of Fools," "Rock Steady" and "Freeway of Love."

PHOTO GALLERY: Aretha Franklin's Life in Pictures

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