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Queen of Soul Reigns Over Rolling Stone's List of 200 Greatest Singers

Aretha Franklin performs during "The Gospel Tradition: In Performance at the White House" in the East Room of the White House, April 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, earned the moniker with undeniable talent, a rare Falcon soprano voice with a nearly four-octave range and a chart-topping music career spanning more than six decades.

Whether it was the gospel music she grew up singing at her father Rev. C.L. Franklin's church, under the tutelage of one of the greats of the genre, Mahalia Jackson, or the secular music she transitioned to later in her career — when she took to the stage, there was no doubt fans were witnessing musical royalty.

By the time she died at the age of 76 in 2018, Franklin — the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — had amassed 20 Grammy Awards and proven her influence beyond music by being granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2007.

Does that make her the greatest pop singer to ever live? Music industry bible Rolling Stone seems to think so.

The publication updated its "200 Greatest Singers of All Time" list to start the new year. First published in 2008, this year's iteration placed Franklin atop a top 10 heavily influenced by R&B and populated exclusively by artists of Black descent.

"A force of nature. A work of genius. A gift from the heavens. Aretha Franklin’s voice is all that and more, which is why she remains the unchallenged Queen, years after her final bow. Her singing is the most magnificent sound to emerge from America — more universal than Coltrane’s horn, bolder than Hendrix’s guitar," the magazine wrote in praise of the superstar.

Compiled by staff and key contributors to the magazine, Rolling Stone asked its readers to keep in mind that it was a list of the greatest singers, not the greatest voices, as they perused the list. As for the criteria it used to rank the artists, the magazine kept it simple.

"In all cases, what mattered most to us was originality, influence, the depth of an artist’s catalog, and the breadth of their musical legacy," it said.

Whitney Houston (No. 2), Sam Cooke (3), Billie Holiday (4), Mariah Carey (5), Ray Charles (6), Stevie Wonder (7), Beyoncé (8), Otis Redding (9) and Al Green (10) rounded out the top 10.

Click here to view the complete list.

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