In January 1967, she traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record at FAME Studios to record the song, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" in front of the musicians of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.The song was later issued that February and shot up to number-one on the R&B chart, while also peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Franklin her first top ten pop single.

Franklin also recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Lady Soul, Young, Gifted and Black and Amazing Grace before experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s.

After her father was shot in 1979, Franklin left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with her part in the film The Blues Brothers and with the albums Jump to It and Who's Zoomin' Who? In 1998, Franklin won international acclaim for singing the opera aria "Nessun dorma", at the Grammys of that year replacing Luciano Pavarotti.

After turning 18, Franklin confided to her father that she aspired to follow Sam Cooke to record pop music. Before signing with Columbia, Sam Cooke tried to persuade Franklin's father to have his label, RCA sign Franklin.

He had also been courted by local record label owner Berry Gordy to sign Franklin and her elder sister Erma to his Tamla label.

By the mid-1960s, Franklin was netting $100,000 from countless performances in nightclubs and theaters.

Also during that period, Franklin appeared on rock and roll shows such as Hollywood A Go-Go and Shindig! However, it was argued that Franklin's potential was neglected at the label. Hammond later said he felt Columbia did not understand Franklin's early gospel background and failed to bring that aspect out further during her Columbia period.

Franklin's mother died on March 7, 1952, before Franklin's tenth birthday.

Several women, including Franklin's grandmother Rachel, and Mahalia Jackson took turns helping with the children at the Franklin home.

By the end of the 1960s decade she had gained the title "The Queen of Soul".