Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of Soul’, died at the age of 76 in her home in Detroit, according to a family statement. The singer had pancreatic cancer.
Franklin started recording gospel music at the age of 14 and had a professional career spanning more than half a century. She was the first woman to be admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and belted out hits such as Respect, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You and You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.
She had 88 Billboard chart hits and won 18 Grammy awards over the course of her career, including the best female R&B performance for eight consecutive years. She also received The National Medal of Arts and The Presidential Medal of Freedom. She welcomed President Barack Obama to the US government in January 2009 with her performance of My Country Tis of Thee at his inauguration.
I only saw Aretha Franklin perform live the once. It was in a different lifetime. pic.twitter.com/gnxefNzBIX
— Tom Peck (@tompeck) August 16, 2018
Franklin passed away at her Detroit home at 9:50 a.m, surrounded by family and friends. Her family released a statement about her passing, which was relayed to the press by Franklin’s longtime publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn.
The statement said:
“The official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.” The Franklin family added, “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 singer had failing health for years but kept her condition private. She stopped touring in February 2017, but continued booking concerts. She had to cancel a few performances earlier this year, including the New Orleans Jazz Fest. In one of her last public performances in June 2017, the singer closed the concert by saying, “God bless you, God keep you, keep me in your prayers.”
Fans of the singer took to social media to express their dismay at her passing.
Rest in peace queen Aretha Franklin you will be missed your music will live on, it's sad to see you go away like that, you will forever be remembered as the queen of soul thank you for existing in our lives ❤ #RIPArethaFranklin #QueenofSoul #ArethaFranklin pic.twitter.com/PUYDW1UzOT
— 🏳️🌈♂👬♂🏳️🌈 (@otakuchinotv) August 16, 2018
true legends never die – your legacy will live on forever!
thank you for touching our lives and our soul with your music
— Rob Coxe (@kimshot) August 16, 2018
Sad to hear about the passing of the great Aretha Franklin. She is and will always be a part of American history! She will live forever in my heart not only through her music but all her accomplishments as a black woman in difficult times! #ArethaFranklin pic.twitter.com/qWMHn0UZMN
— Rockin Randy Rhodes (@ranrhodes) August 16, 2018
Heaven…. is lit now ! People in my generation will never understand… this was one of the most incredible voices ever that paved the way for performers that look like me so I won’t have to ! There will never be another one ! RIP Aretha Franklin ! #arethafranlin pic.twitter.com/eXHEQBWsW5
— Da'Von Lampley (@DaVonLampley) August 16, 2018
Regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time, Aretha Franklin. Rest in peace Queen of Soul pic.twitter.com/Ulx0r2abng
— Backup Concept OSP® (@BackupConcept) August 16, 2018
RIP the great Aretha Franklin, a woman who demanded respect long before it was an expectation. The world has lost a queen.
— Sulome Anderson (@SulomeAnderson) August 16, 2018
Aretha Franklin’s last performance was last November at an Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in New York.