Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer at her home in Detroit.
Franklin’s family confirmed her death at 9:50 a.m. ET on Thursday (Aug. 16) through their publicist Gwendolyn Quinn to the Associated Press.
“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,” reads the Franklin family statement.
“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.”
Dubbed “the Queen of Soul”, Franklin’s career spanned six decades with chart-topping hits including two No.1′s for 1967′s “Respect”, which garnered her first two Grammy Awards, and the 1987 duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).” In the course of her career, Franklin had 72 titles on the Hot 100 and 18 Grammy Awards.
Topping Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2010, Franklin’s career saw her become the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and, in 2005, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by former President George W. Bush. Her relationship with American presidents spans decades, performing at the Inaugural Gala for President Jimmy Carter in 1977, singing “I Dreamed a Dream” for then-President Bill Clinton during his 1993 inauguration, and performing at former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
With Franklin spending much of her life in the spotlight, it would seem inevitable that someone would want to document her life and career. In 1988, Franklin was the subject of PBS’s arts strand ‘American Masters’. The 60-minute film, Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul, examined her career through archival footage and interviews with members of the singer’s family and prominent figures in the music industry.
More recently, controversy swirled around the late Sydney Pollock’s “lost” documentary about Franklin recording her 1972 album Amazing Grace, which was pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival line-up after producers decided to withdraw the project due to a legal battle between the singer and the production team.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25, 1942, Franklin moved to Detroit with her family where she sang gospel’s in the church choir presided over by her father, reverend C.L. Franklin. She debuted her first single on the Hot 100 at the tender age of 18 with the song “Won’t Be Long,” which peaked at No. 76 in March 1961.
Franklin announced in 2015 a semi-retirement from the stage, no longer performing regularly after the release of her album A Brand New Me.
(Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)