Erma Franklin

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Erma Franklin
Erma Franklin.jpg
Franklin in 1967.
Background information
Birth name Erma Vernice Franklin
Also known as Erma Franklin–Garrett
Born (1938-03-13)March 13, 1938
Shelby, Mississippi, U.S.
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died September 7, 2002(2002-09-07) (aged 64)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1955–2002
Associated acts

Erma Vernice Franklin (March 13, 1938 – September 7, 2002) was an American gospel and R&B singer. Franklin was the elder sister of American singer/musician Aretha Franklin. Franklin's best known recording was the original version of "Piece of My Heart", written and produced by Bert Berns, and recorded in 1967, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award.[1] 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.


Early life and family[edit]

Erma Franklin was born in Shelby, Mississippi,[1] 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, New York. Franklin studied Business at Clark Atlanta University (then known as Clark College).


During her childhood Erma and her sisters Aretha and Carolyn sang at New Bethel Baptist Church. Later, when Aretha became a recording artist, Erma provided backing vocals and toured with her. Among her more notable back-up performances for her sister was on Aretha's signature tune "Respect".[1]

Erma Franklin sang the original version of "Piece of My Heart", which was a top 10 R&B hit in the U.S. and rose to number 62 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. 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 nine.

Franklin told an interviewer that when she first heard Janis Joplin's version on the radio, she didn't recognize it because of the vocal arrangement.[2]

Erma's solo recording career was hampered by misfortune and by recording contracts with record labels that did not find the most suitable material for her husky voice.[citation needed] 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 Nelson Mandela's rally at Tiger Stadium.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

Franklin married Thomas Garrett in 1952 and later gave birth to their two children, Thomas Garrett Jr. (1954–2011) and Sabrina Garrett (b. 1958). For 25 years, Erma worked for the Boysville Holy Cross Community Center, a Detroit organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged minority children. Franklin died of throat cancer in Detroit, Michigan on September 7, 2002 at age 64.[1] She is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery.






Charted singles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d – accessed April 2011
  2. ^ a b "Erma Franklin". June 28, 1990. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Erma Franklin". Discogs. Retrieved June 21, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Erma Franklin". Discogs. Retrieved June 21, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Archive chart: (25 October 1992 – 31 October 1992)". UK Singles Chart. October 25, 1992. Retrieved October 13, 2016. 
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 213. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]