See Aretha Franklin's 3 Grandchildren, Who Inherited Her Musical Talent
Jordan, Victorie, and Grace are all musicians and protective of their grandmother's legacy.
Aretha Franklin may be remembered as the "The Queen of Soul," but she's also a legend in the pop, jazz, and R&B genres. The artist won 18 Grammy Awards during her career and was the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin died of pancreatic cancer in 2018, but her story has been kept alive not only through her music, but also recent media about her life, including the National Geographic miniseries Genius: Aretha and the movie Respect, coming to theaters on Aug. 13 and starring Jennifer Hudson. The singer's legacy includes her family, as well. Franklin had four children and three grandchildren—Jordan Franklin, Victorie Franklin, and Grace Franklin—who are musicians themselves, as well as protectors of their grandmother's legacy, speaking out about biographical projects they don't approve of. To read more about Aretha Franklin's grandchildren and to hear why they feel so differently about Aretha and Genius, read on.
Jordan credits his grandmother for teaching him "the family business."
All of Franklin's grandchildren are from her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham. Jordan, who is 26 years old, is Cunningham's oldest. He makes his own R&B and soul music under the name Jonah. So far, he's released two solo singles: "Good Intentions" in April 2019 and "Smoke in My Lungs" this past February. He also collaborated with LITO on the hip-hop song, "Autumn Trees," which came out last month.
Unsurprisingly, Jordan turned to his grandmother Aretha when learning about music. Last year, he shared an old photo of himself in the studio with Aretha and his family. "Queen teaching her boys the family business," Jordan wrote in the caption. "This picture captures who she was to us. A leader. Missing you today gram."
Jordan and Aretha had a close relationship outside of the studio, as well. After his grandmother passed away, he shared a post about how grateful he was for her. "Thank you for loving me, thank you for believing in me as much as you did, thank you for ALWAYS putting the family first and showing us the right way to handle success," he wrote on Instagram. "I'm sad I'm losing my friend today.. but the imprint you left on this world can never be removed."
Jordan also expresses his appreciation for Aretha through his music. He wrote her a song, "Windows in Heaven," which he shared on Instagram this past March in honor of her birthday.
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Victorie has used her voice to honor her grandmother.
Twenty-two-year-old Victorie has inherited her grandmother's talent and is starting her own singing career. When she was 15, she performed a cover of Tamela Mann's "Take Me to the King" at the 2014 BET Honors ceremony as a tribute to Aretha, who was sitting in the audience. While she's yet to release anything officially, Victorie shares snippets of music she's been writing and covers of songs on her Instagram.
With an iconic singer as a grandmother, music has always been an important part of Victorie's life. After Aretha's death, she posted a video of Aretha sitting at the piano, filmed that past March. "I have many memories of me coming into her home and she would be playing the piano and singing," Victorie wrote. "Today we lost an icon, a legend, but today I lost my grandma. I love u and imma make u proud."
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Grace performed at a benefit marking the first anniversary of Aretha's death.
At 15, Grace is the youngest of Aretha's grandchildren. She's already pursuing a career in music, and she's in good company—Aretha also started performing when she was a teen. While Grace hasn't released her own music yet, she shares videos of herself singing covers on social media.
She uses her voice to keep her grandmother's legacy alive, as well. In 2019, Grace was a performer at the "A Benefit In Memory of Aretha Franklin" event in Detroit, Michigan, which occurred on the one-year anniversary of Aretha's death.
Aretha's family spoke out against the National Geographic miniseries.
Genius: Aretha, an eight-episode miniseries about the late singer's personal life and career, premiered in March of this year. Harriet actor and Tony winner Cynthia Erivo starred.
In advance of its release, Aretha's family made it clear that they did not approve. Grace posted a video to TikTok with her parents, siblings, and friends protesting the project and chanting, "This movie has to go!" It seems as though the family's main issue was that they were not invited to be involved in the project at any point. "During the process of writing, directing, and filming this movie, we've reached out to Genius as a family on multiple occasions where we have been disrespected and told we will not be worked with," she says in the same TikTok. She also claims that Genius includes "many inaccuracies about [Aretha's] life."
In response, National Geographic released a statement saying that they had permission from Aretha's estate, which is separate from her family. "We can tell you that everyone who worked on Genius: Aretha approached telling her story with the intention to respect Ms. Franklin in every aspect of the series and in every decision we made," the statement reads, as reported by the BBC.
But they've endorsed Respect.
The upcoming biopic, Respect, on the other hand, was made with the blessing of Aretha's family and was sanctioned by Aretha herself. A 2018 Variety report on the then-untitled film (to which Hudson was already attached) points out that the singer spoke publicly many times over the years about the biopic being in the works. "She was my partner in doing this," producer Harvey Mason Jr. told the outlet about the film. He also said that, the last time he spoke with her before she died, Aretha was "really optimistic and talking about the movie."
Ahead of its theatrical release, Aretha's family were treated to a private screening of the film. Hudson even traveled to Detroit to watch it with them and to spend some time with Aretha's living relatives. On Instagram last week, Grace shared a video of herself singing for the movie's star. "Chilling and talking with @iamjhud at my great grandpas old house was so wonderful," she wrote in the caption. "She's so down to Earth, it was like we met before! she did such a great job playing my grandma, I hope all of you enjoy."
Aretha wasn't a diva around her family.
Although Aretha was a legendary performer known for her confidence, her family's most cherished memories with her happened off-stage. "There's no diva-ness or anything, we're just eating chicken wings, stuff like that," Cunningham (above right) told Fox 2 Detroit about his mother. "And we would just really have a great time and that to me meant more than anything."
Those are the moments that her grandchildren are holding on to as well. "I just smile because even though she's not here, I have memories and that's all I need," Grace added.