Co-written by the celebrated writing-producing team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin, the song was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler. As recounted in his autobiography, Wexler, a student of African-American musical culture, had been mulling over the concept of the "natural man", when he drove by King on the streets of New York. He shouted out to her he wanted a "natural woman" song for Franklin's next album. In thanks, Goffin and King granted Wexler a co-writing credit. The personnel on the original recording included Melvin Lastie on cornet, King Curtis and Charlie Chalmers on tenor sax,Willie Bridges on baritone sax,Spooner Oldham on piano, Jimmy Johnson on guitar, Tommy Cogbill on bass and Gene Chrisman on drums.
Natural Woman was released by Peggy Lipton in 1968 on her self-titled album on Ode Records.
Natural Man was released by Freddie Hughes in 1968 "Natural Man" / "I Gotta Keep My Bluff in" (Wand Records 1192).
Whitney Houston also covered the song during her Bodyguard World Tour, as part of a portion of her show, that she specifically dedicated to Aretha Franklin. (The Houston cover was never recorded as part of an official album.)
Japanese recording artist Superfly released a cover of the song as a B-side on her single "Dancing on the Fire" and later released the song as a digital single.
Indie Canadian recording artist Katie Stelmanis covered the song on her 2007 album, Join Us.
On April 14, 1998, Céline Dion, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan and Carole King performed during a VH1 Divas concert at the Beacon Theatre, New York. The five vocalists were recruited by the cable music network VH1 to raise money for Save the Music, their education charity. Hyped extensively in the press, the event was a ratings' winner for VH1 - so successful, in fact, that the network arranged to have the concert released on disc and tape on October 6, 1998. At that time "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (performed by all divas) was released as a radio single around the world.