Who was Aretha Franklin’s tour manager Ken Cunningham?

SOUL sensation Aretha Franklin died in August 2018 aged 76 from pancreatic cancer.

As one of the most successful American singers of all time, she was the first ever woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. But what do we know about the late singer’s tour manager Ken Cunningham?

Aretha Franklin pictured on tour at London's New Victoria Theatra in 1980


Aretha Franklin pictured on tour at London’s New Victoria Theatra in 1980Credit: Redferns

Who was Aretha Franklin’s tour manager Ken Cunningham?

Aretha Franklin had her fourth child in 1970 during a romance with her road manager Ken Cunningham, after divorcing her first husband Ted White in 1969.

In the fall of 1969, Aretha toured Europe.

Her road manager on the tour was a successful businessman named Ken Cunningham, who Aretha called Wolf.

The pair’s professional relationship became an important friendship in her life, which blossomed into a romance.

She and Ken began living together in New York City.

Cunningham was widely recognised as having a positive impact on Aretha and encouraged her to stop drinking and to eat more healthily.

While recording the album that would become ‘This Girl’s In Love With You’, Aretha discovered she was pregnant by Cunningham which resulted in her cancelling all personal appearances and concerts for the remainder of the year

In March 1970, she gave birth to their son, Kecalf (pronounced Keif).

How many children did Aretha Franklin and Ken Cunningham have?

Although Aretha Franklin had four children, only her final son Kecalf was with Ken Cunningham.

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Franklin had her last son aged 28 in 1970.

Kecalf, now 50, is a Christian rapper.

He also performed with his mother and their most notable performance was a 2008 concert at the Radio City Music Hall.

His name is an acronym of both his father and mother’s full names — Ken E. Cunningham and Aretha Louise Franklin.

Aretha Franklin, son Kecalf Cunningham and granddaughter Victorie Cunningham in 2015


Aretha Franklin, son Kecalf Cunningham and granddaughter Victorie Cunningham in 2015Credit: Getty

Ten years later, Aretha wed her second husband, actor Glynn Turman.

She became the stepmother to Turman’s three children from a previous marriage.

Glynn was a stage, TV and film actor known for playing Lew in ‘Peyton Place’. However, the marriage lasted only for a few years and they divorced in 1984.

Stars lead tributes to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin at her funeral which lasted over six hours


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