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Erma Franklin (March 13, 1938 – September 7, 2002) was an American gospel and R&B singer. She was the oldest daughter of Barbara (née Siggers) and the Reverend C. L. Franklin and the elder sister of Aretha Franklin. Her best known recording was the original version of "Piece of My Heart," written and produced by Bert Berns.

Erma Vernice Franklin was born in Shelby, Mississippi and was reared in Detroit, Michigan where her father was pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church. She was raised by both her parents until the age of ten when her parents separated with her mother taking her eldest sibling, half-brother Vaughn, with her to Buffalo, New York in 1948. Barbara Franklin died four years later in 1952.

During her childhood Erma and her sisters Aretha and Carolyn sang at New Bethel Baptist Church. Later, when sister Aretha became a recording artist, Erma provided backing vocals and toured with Aretha. Among her most notable back up performances for her sister was on Aretha's signature tune, "'Respect". Erma's own solo recording career was hampered by misfortune and by contracts with record labels who did not find the most suitable material for her husky voice. In the mid 1970s Erma left the music industry, apart from occasional engagements with Aretha.

Franklin married Thomas Garrett and gave birth to two children in the early 1960s - Thomas Jr. and Sabrina. She later went to work for the Boysville Holy Cross Community Center - a Detroit organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged minority children. Erma was diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring of 2002. She died at the age of 64 in September of that year.

In addition to her siblings, Aretha, Vaughn, and Carl Ellan Kelley (her father's daughter by Mildred Jennings), Franklin is survived by her two children; daughter Sabrina Garrett and son Thomas Garrett Jr. She is interred at Detroit's historic Woodlawn Cemetery on North Woodward Avenue.


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