Carolyn Ann Franklin (May 13, 1944 – April 25, 1988) was an American singer–songwriter. Besides from her own musical success, Franklin was best known as the daughter of prominent Detroit preacher and civil rights activist C. L. Franklin; and the younger sister of American singer/musician Aretha Franklin.
Franklin was born in Memphis to Barbara (née Siggers) and Reverend C. L. Franklin. The youngest of the minister's six children, she moved to Buffalo, New York, shortly after her birth. Around 1946, the Franklin family settled in Detroit, Michigan, where Carolyn would begin singing at her father's New Bethel Baptist Church. Inspired by her sisters' successes in the secular music field in the early 1960s, Carolyn followed Erma and Aretha into a secular recording career, first recording in 1963. Like Erma, Carolyn's modest success in the industry wasn't matched by Aretha's blockbuster breakthrough in the late 1960s. While struggling to release a hit, she began to work behind the scenes as a songwriter, mainly for sister Aretha's work. Aretha and Carolyn's bond led to several collaborations between the two and Carolyn came up with several compositions that became classic hits including "Ain't No Way", recorded in 1968. The ballad single was the b-side to Aretha's top ten triumph, "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone". The song was strong enough to have its own airplay and eventually hit the R&B Top 10 and also went Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Carolyn's next hit for her sister was the 1973 ballad "Angel", which also featured Carolyn, and eldest sister Erma Franklin, in background voices advising Aretha. Aretha mentioned her sister's name in the beginning of the song in a monologue describing how Carolyn came up with the song. Another song Carolyn contributed was "Pullin'" with Jimmy Radcliffe. Carolyn also wrote songs for Franklin's 1970 album Spirit in the Dark and her failed 1975 album, You. In 1976, Carolyn retired from the music industry and occasionally continued to sing with Aretha. She appeared as one of Aretha's background singers in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers and was a backing vocalist on Paul King's 1987 album Joy. Carolyn died of breast cancer at Aretha's Scenic Court home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on April 25, 1988, and - like other deceased family members - is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery on North Woodward Avenue.
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