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|Birth name||Erma Vernice Franklin|
March 13, 1938|
Shelby, Mississippi, United States
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, United States|
|Died||September 7, 2002
Detroit, Michigan, United States
|Associated acts||Aretha Franklin, Carolyn Franklin|
Erma Franklin (March 13, 1938 – September 7, 2002) was an American gospel and R&B singer. She was the oldest daughter of Barbara (née Siggers) and the Reverend C. L. Franklin, as well as the elder sister of Aretha Franklin. Her best known recording was the original version of "Piece of My Heart", written and produced by Bert Berns, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Erma Vernice Franklin was born in Shelby, Mississippi, but reared in Detroit, Michigan, where her father was pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church. She was raised by both parents until the age of ten when her parents separated for the final time. Her mother took her eldest sibling, half-brother Vaughn, with her to Buffalo, New York in 1948. Barbara Siggers-Franklin died four years later on March 7, 1952 in Buffalo, New York.
During her childhood Erma and her sisters Aretha and Carolyn sang at New Bethel Baptist Church. Later, when sister Aretha became a recording artist, Erma provided backing vocals and toured with Aretha. Among her most notable back up performances for her sister was on Aretha's signature tune, "'Respect". Erma's own solo recording career was hampered by misfortune and by contracts with record labels who did not find the most suitable material for her husky voice. In the mid 1970s Erma left the music industry, apart from occasional engagements with Aretha. She was one of the special guests on Aretha's 1986 Showtime cable television special - filmed at Detroit's Music Hall - and also performed on June 28, 1990 at the Nelson Mandela's rally at Tiger Stadium.
Erma married Thomas Garrett and gave birth to two children in the early 1960s - Thomas Jr. and Sabrina. She later went to work for the Boysville Holy Cross Community Center - a Detroit organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged minority children. Erma Franklin was diagnosed with throat cancer in the spring of 2002 and died in Detroit that September at the age of 64.
In addition to her siblings, Aretha, Vaughn, Carolyn and Carl Ellan Kelley (her father's daughter by 12 year old Mildred Jennings), Franklin is survived by her two children; Sabrina Garrett and Thomas Garrett Jr. She is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery on North Woodward Avenue.
- Erma Franklin at Find a Grave
- Erma Franklin interview
- Tribute to Erma Franklin
- Erma Franklin discography