Aretha Franklin becomes first female musician to, posthumously, be given this prestigious award

Aretha Franklin

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who died from a pancreatic tumour last August at the age of 76, has become the first solo woman to be awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for her “indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades”.

The board of the prestigious American prize, which honours the best in music, literature, theatre and journalism, announced that it had posthumously awarded the special honour to the legendary American performer on Monday, in New York.

She joins less than a dozen other musicians to receive the Pulitzer’s Special citation for the arts; with previous winners including Rodgers & Hammerstein, George Gershwin, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan and, most recently in 2010, Hank Williams.

MORE: Nominations wanted for w&h's fabulous Amazing Women Awards 2019, enter someone now!

But amazingly, she is the first female artist to be recognised with the honour since it was first awarded in 1930.

During her long and versatile career, the American artist, known for hit songs like Respect, Think, Chain Of Fools and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, was no stranger to impressive accolades.

Throughout the decades she was awarded 18 Grammy awards and had 17 top 10 US chart hits. She became the first woman to be admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Aretha Franklin’s amazing voice meant she was privy to some of the most significant moments in American history, including the inaugurations of Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. She also sang at the 2005 funeral for fellow amazing woman Rosa Parks, and at the dedication of Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial.

If you know an incredible woman who you reckon should also receive some much-deserved recognition for their achievements, nominate her in our Amazing Women Awards 2019.

Described by Rolling Stone as the greatest singer of all time, Aretha was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up singing in her church choir before signing with Columbia Records aged 18.

Following her sad death last August, public figures including Ariana Grande, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder and Bill Clinton paid tribute to the musical icon at her funeral.

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist, currently working as Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on other women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. 


She is obsessive about everything homes and interiors—whether she's sniffing out the very best deal on a KitchenAid stand mixer or keeping up the latest Dyson release. And when she isn't editing or writing articles on interior trends or the latest home gadgets, she's passionate about books—you'll usually find her with her nose in a gripping thriller at the end of the working day.