Erma Franklin

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Erma Franklin
Franklin in 1967
Franklin in 1967
Background information
Birth nameErma Vernice Franklin
Born(1938-03-13)March 13, 1938
Shelby, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedSeptember 7, 2002(2002-09-07) (aged 64)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Years active1955–2002

Erma Vernice Franklin (March 13, 1938 – September 7, 2002)[1] was an American gospel and soul singer. Franklin recorded the original version of "Piece of My Heart", written and produced by Bert Berns, in 1967, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award.[2] A cover version of the same song was recorded the following year by Big Brother and the Holding Company, with the lead vocal by Janis Joplin. Franklin was the elder sister of American singer/musician Aretha Franklin.


Early life and family[edit]

Erma Franklin was born in Shelby, Mississippi, United States,[2][3] the oldest daughter of Barbara (née Siggers) and the Reverend C. L. Franklin. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where her father was pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church. She was raised by both parents until the age of 10, 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.

Franklin studied Business at Clark Atlanta University (then named Clark College).


During her childhood, Erma and her sisters Aretha and Carolyn sang at New Bethel Baptist Church. When Aretha became a recording artist, Erma provided backing vocals and toured with her. Erma sang backup for her sister Aretha on Aretha's signature tune "Respect".[2]

In 1967, Erma Franklin sang the original version of "Piece of My Heart", which was a top 10 soul hit in the U.S. and rose to number 62 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.[3] The track was co-written and produced by Bert Berns.[3] In the UK, Franklin's version was used in a Levi's jeans commercial ("Cinderella" AKA "Night and Day"), leading to a resurgence of interest in the song. The single was re-released in the UK in 1992 and peaked on the UK Singles Chart at number 9.[3]

Franklin told an interviewer that when she first heard Janis Joplin's version on the radio, she did not recognize it because of the vocal arrangement.[4]

In the mid-1970s, Franklin left the music industry, apart from occasional engagements with her sister. 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 Nelson Mandela's rally at Tiger Stadium.[4]

Personal life and death[edit]

Franklin married Thomas Garrett and gave birth to their two children: Thomas Jr. and Sabrina. For 25 years, Franklin worked for the Boysville Holy Cross Community Center, a Detroit organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged minority children.[3] Franklin died of cancer in Detroit, on September 7, 2002, aged 64.[2] She is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery.



Year Album Peaks Label
1962 Her Name Is Erma Epic
1969 Soul Sister 199 Brunswick
2015 The Electric Flag Featuring Erma Franklin - Live 1968
(with The Electric Flag)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album


"Hello Again" 1961 Her Name Is Erma
"What Kind of Girl"
"Time After Time" 1962
"Dear Momma" Non-album single
"I Don't Want No Momma's Boy" 1963
"Big Boss Man" 1967
"Piece of My Heart" 62 10 33 5 10 9 25 9 5
"Open Up Your Soul" 1968
"I'm Just Not Ready For Love"
"The Right to Cry"
"It Could've Been Me" 1969
"Saving My Love For You" Soul Sister
"Gotta Find Me a Lover (24 Hours a Day)" 40 20
"Whispers (Gettin' Louder)" 1970 Non-album single
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.
  • (Take a Little) Piece of My Heart did not chart in the UK until 1992, therefore the peak recorded here occurred on 31st October 1992 [15]


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2002 July to December".
  3. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 490. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  4. ^ a b "Erma Franklin". June 28, 1990. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Erma Franklin - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 19, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  6. ^ Bronson, Fred (September 20, 2002). "CHART BEAT CHAT: "Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson answers readers' questions on Erma Franklin, "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, No. 1 singles in Europe and the U.S., criteria for ranking top artists of…". Billboard. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  7. ^ "Erma Franklin Chart History - Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  8. ^ "Discografie Erma Franklin -". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know" (Enter Erma Franklin into Search by Artist. box and click search). Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved July 17, 2022 – via
  11. ^ "Discografie Erma Franklin -" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  12. ^ " - Discography Erma Franklin" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  13. ^ "ERMA FRANKLIN | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 17, 2022.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "ERMA FRANKLIN | Official Charts". Official Charts.

External links[edit]