Erma Vernice Franklin was the elder sister of American singer/musician Aretha Franklin. Franklin's best known recording was the original version of "Piece of My Heart", written and produced by Bert Berns, and recorded in 1967, for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award. A cover version of the same song was recorded the following year by Big Brother and the Holding Company, with the lead vocal by Janis Joplin.
Franklin told an interviewer that when she first heard Janis Joplin's version on the radio, she did not recognize it because of the vocal arrangement.
In the mid-1970s, Franklin left the music industry, apart from occasional engagements with her sister. She was one of the special guests on Aretha's 1986 Showtime cable television special — filmed at Detroit's Music Hall — and also performed on June 28, 1990 at Nelson Mandela's rally at Tiger Stadium.
Franklin died of lung cancer in Detroit, Michigan on September 7, 2002 at age 64.