Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, dies at 76

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Aretha Franklin, the multiple Grammy award-winning singer whose career spanned seven decades, has succumbed to advanced pancreatic cancer, Local 10 News reported.

The ‘Queen of Soul’ died at 9:50 a.m. in her Detroit home on Thursday, according to a report from the Associated Press. She was 76.

Aretha’s publicist  Gwendolyn Quinn confirmed she had been battling various undisclosed illnesses for years, and, in recent weeks, was receiving hospice care.

“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,” the family said.

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

As news of her declining health spread over the past few days, visitors including Stevie Wonder and the Rev. Jesse Jackson reportedly paid their respects at her bedside. Beyoncé and Jay-Z dedicated their Monday concert in the Motor City to Franklin.

“We love you,” Beyoncé said, adding a word of thanks for “the beautiful music.”

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton wrote, “Hillary and I mourn the loss of our friend Aretha Franklin, one of America’s greatest national treasures. For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry. Aretha’s first music school was the church and her performances were powered by what she learned there. I’ll always be grateful for her kindness and support, including her performances at both my inaugural celebrations, and for the chance to be there for what sadly turned out to be her final performance last November at a benefit supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS. She will forever be the Queen of Soul and so much more to all who knew her personally and through her music. Our hearts go out to her family and her countless fans.”

Over the course of her nearly seven-decade career, Franklin established herself as one of the most important artists in music history, winning 18 Grammy Awards, selling more than 75 million records worldwide, becoming the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and recording 112 charted singles on Billboard, thus setting the record for the most charted female artist in the trade magazine’s history.

Franklin’s other accolades during her lifetime included three American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, one Golden Globe, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Grammy Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, being named 2008’s MusiCares Person of the Year, and honorary degrees from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and the Berklee College of Music. She performed at Martin Luther King’s memorial service and at the inaugurations of three presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

“The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!” wrote the U.S. Presdent Donald Trump on Twitter.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife posted the following statement:

America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade-our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.

Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.

In 2010, Franklin’s commanding mezzo-soprano voice earned her the No. 1 spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Contributing to that issue, admirer Mary J. Blige wrote, “You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing. Aretha has everything — the power, the technique. She is honest with everything she says.”

Aretha’s most acclaimed gospel recording came in 1972 with the Grammy-winning album “Amazing Grace,” which was recorded live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles and featured gospel legend James Cleveland, along with her own father (Mick Jagger was one of the celebrities in the audience). It became one of of the best-selling gospel albums ever.

In February 2017, Franklin told Detroit TV station WDIV that she planned to make one more album, with several tracks produced by her old friend Stevie Wonder, before officially retiring to spend more time with her grandchildren — though she hoped to open a nightclub in Detroit where she could occasionally perform. That album has yet to materialize.

In November 2017, she released A Brand New Me, a collection of archival Atlantic Records vocal recordings set to new orchestral arrangements by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. (Another compilation from that era, The Atlantic Singles Collection 1967-1970, is due out Sept. 28.)