Aretha Franklin, the music icon, Queen of Soul who influenced generations of singers with unforgettable hits such as Respect (1967), Natural Woman (1968) and I Say a Little Prayer (1968), was surrounded by family and friends when she died at 9.50am on Thursday local time.
It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” her family said in a statement issued by her publicist.
In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart.
We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.
Her death from advanced pancreatic cancer was followed by an outpouring of grief, with celebrities flocking to pay their respects to the iconic singer.
John Legend tweeted: “Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known.”
Diana Ross said she was “sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.”
Barbra Streisand shared a photo of herself performing with Franklin in 2012, adding: It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.
Tributes flowed for the remarkable woman, with everyone from Apple CEO Tim Cook to Hillary Clinton expressing their admiration for Franklin and sadness at her death.
Stars offered tributes and prayers for their idol earlier this week after news about her worsening condition emerged.
“My prayers are with Aretha Franklin and her family during this difficult time,” tweeted rapper Missy Elliott.
“We MUST CELEBRATE the Living Legends while they are here to see it. So many have given us decades of Timeless music.”
Boy George said: “This is sad news. Aretha Franklin, what a voice.”
Pop diva Mariah Carey, who was heavily influenced by Franklin, tweeted: “Praying for the Queen of Soul.”
Franklin has cemented her place in American music history with her powerful, bell-clear voice that stretched over four octaves. In her decades-long career, her hits spanned the genres, from soul to R&B, to gospel and pop.
Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known. ?????????? #Aretha
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 16, 2018
I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) August 16, 2018
Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 16, 2018
She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, male or female.
The Hall of Fame issued a statement titled “Lady Soul”, which read: “The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music. Long live the Queen.”
Franklin’s declining health was first disclosed on the Showbiz 411 website late Monday by Roger Friedman, a reporter and family friend. He wrote that she was “gravely ill in Detroit. The family is asking for prayers and privacy.”
Queen… My Queen. pic.twitter.com/6olvvLPISd
— Anita Baker (@IAMANITABAKER) August 16, 2018
We mourn the passing of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Her voice will keep lifting us, through the music she gave the world. Our thoughts are with her family, her loved ones and fans everywhere. Take her hand, precious Lord, and lead her home. ? pic.twitter.com/I84HTEVZU1
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 16, 2018
Franklin, who is widely known by only her first name, in true diva style, rose from singing gospel in her father’s church to regularly topping rhythm and blues and pop charts in the 1960s and 1970s.
Beyond Respect, her powerful cover of the Otis Redding tune that became her calling card, Franklin had dozens of Top 40 singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Other hits include Day Dreaming (1972), Jump to It (1982), Freeway of Love (1985) and A Rose Is Still A Rose (1998).
She won 18 Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement, and sang at the inaugurations of two presidents: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
In 2005, Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award for an American civilian, by then-president George W. Bush.
In 2010, she suffered serious health problems, but continued to perform until late last year, singing last in November 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. That same year, Detroit named a street after her.
Standing outside the Motown Museum in Detroit on Tuesday, Linda Laura-Culbreath told AFP that Franklin had influenced a generation of women who were empowered by her songs.
We all were blessed with pure talent,” the 53-year-old musician, who was visiting from Milwaukee, said.
She made sure that women in general knew that they were not under a man, that they were supposed to walk next to them.