- At 14, she performed and recorded "Precious Lord" before her father's congregation, Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church.
- Columbia Records released her first album, The Great Aretha Franklin, in 1960.
- In 1972, she had a small role in the TV show Room 222.
- Made her film debut in 1980's The Blues Brothers, singing "Think."
- In 1986, Michigan law makers declared her voice the state's greatest natural resource.
- In 1987, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- In 1994, she was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
- In 2005, President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- In 2006, she became the first female artist to be honored by the United Negro College Fund with the Award of Excellence.
- Sang at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.
- Has been awarded honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.