Carl Ellan Kelley: What happened to Aretha Franklin’s sister?

Carl Ellan Kelley

Carl Ellan Kelley is Aretha Franklin’s sister. Carl Ellan Kelley’s half-sister, Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Referred to as the “Queen of Soul”, she has twice been placed 9th in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. She has sold over 75 million records and is regarded as one of the world’s best-selling music artists.

Carl Ellan Kelley: Bio Summary

NameCarl Ellan Kelley
Famous as daughter of C. L. Franklin
Aretha Franklin’s sister
BirthdayNovember 17, 1940
Age79 years old at the time of her death
Date of DeathJanuary 30, 2019
NationalityAmerican
EthnicityBlack
Zodiac signScorpio
Parents Father- C. L. Franklin, Mother- Mildred Jennings
Siblings Erma Franklin, Carolyn Franklin, Aretha Franklin, Rev. Cecil Franklin

Who was Aretha Franklin’s sister?

Carl Ellan Kelley was born on November 17, 1940. She is the daughter of C. L. Franklin and Mildred Jennings. Carl is the only child of her father. She had four other siblings- Erma Franklin, Carolyn Franklin, Aretha Franklin, and Rev. Cecil Franklin. Carl Ellan was born during his tenure at New Salem Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and was the last of his children to survive him.

Carl Ellan Kelley’s father Franklin was an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist. He was known as the man with the “Million-Dollar Voice” and served as the pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, from 1946 until he was shot and wounded in 1979.

Carl Ellan Kelley came into the limelight after she was noted by his father’s biographer, Nick Salvatore. It was revealed in the book “Singing in a Strange Land,” that Carl always knew who her father was, but it wasn’t until she was close to 18 that she took the bold decision to contact the famous reverend by writing him a letter.

Amomama revealed that C.L. didn’t call her directly after reading her letter but rather contacted fellow minister A. R. Williams who forced him to finally acknowledge Carl as his daughter, something the reverend didn’t want to do for several reasons. Aside from the reverend engaging in an extramarital affair, Mildred was just 12 years old when she gave birth to Carl.

After her father acknowledged her as his own, she visited Detroit to meet her siblings, except Carolyn Franklin. Rachel Franklin, “Big Mama,” embraced Carl with open arms.

Carl Ellan’s father was married twice. His first marriage was to Alene Gaines, and though that marriage had ended by early 1936, the form of dissolution is unconfirmed. On June 3, 1936, Franklin married Barbara Siggers, with whom he had four children: Erma (1938–2002), Cecil (1940–1989), Aretha (1942–2018), and Carolyn (1944–1988).

Barbara had a son from a previous relationship, Vaughn (1934–2002), whom the famous reverend adopted shortly after they exchanged their vows. Vaughn did not learn that C. L. Franklin was not his father until 1951. When C.L. and Barbara separated (for the last time), Barbara moved with Vaughn to Buffalo, New York, leaving Franklin with the couple’s four other children. The couple never divorced according to some reports. 

According to biographer Nick Salvatore of Cornell University, C. L. Franklin’s wife Barbara made periodic trips to Detroit to visit her children and they traveled to New York to visit her during summer vacations. Barbara sadly passed away of a heart attack in 1952. She was 34 years old when she died. C. L. did not attend his wife’s funeral.

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What happened to Carl Ellan Kelley, Aretha Franklin’s sister?

Carl Ellan died on January 30, 2019, aged 79 per her Obituary. The cause of her death was not made known to the public. She was preceded in death by her famous sister who passed away on August 16, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan, United States. In Aretha Louise’s will, she designated $50,000 to her half-sister, Carl.  

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