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Erma Franklin

Recording artist

Erma Franklin, Grammy-nommed recording artist who at times backed up her sister Aretha, died Sept. 7 of cancer in Detroit. She was 64.

Franklin, who spent most of the last three decades working for Boysville of Michigan helping at-risk children, had her biggest hit, “Piece of My Heart,” in 1967 and was nominated for a Grammy the following year. The song was revived in a Levi’s jeans commercial in Europe in 1992. Earlier this year, it was No. 10 on the British charts after yet another media resurrection.

Memphis, Tenn., native started her singing career at age 5 at a church in Buffalo, N.Y., where her father, the late C.L. Franklin, was pastor. After moving to Detroit, she, Aretha and their sister Carolyn (now deceased) sang in the choir at New Bethel Baptist Church. The sibs sang backup on Aretha’s “Respect,” and some credit Erma with creating the song’s famous “sock it to me” refrain.

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