Aretha Franklin died in her hometown of Detroit after a battle with advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. She was 76 years old. Franklin began her singing career as a child, singing gospel music in the church where her father, C. L. Franklin, was a minister. It wasn't until she was 18 in 1960 that she really started singing professionally. Franklin gained popularity in 1967 when she signed with Atlantic records, recording hit singles like "Respect" and "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman." She was deemed the Queen of Soul by the end of the decade.
It was revealed earlier in the week that Aretha Franklin was sick, but specific details were not given. It was later said that the singer was in hospice care. Franklin had some health issues over the years and struggled with an addiction to smoking as well as alcoholism. Rumors of pancreatic cancer started back in the early 2000s after the singer had a tumor removed. However, she denied rumors of the cancer. Franklin's family has released an official statement about her death. The statement reads.
"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. 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."
In addition to being the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin took a role in the the iconic comedy musical, The Blues Brothers in 1980. She played a waitress named Mrs. Murphy who sings the song "Think." Her performance in the movie grew in popularity over the years and she returned to do 1998's Blues Brothers 2000. "Think" was written by Teddy White and Franklin with the music performed by the Blues Brothers.
Aretha Franklin's gospel singing was at the root of her voice, but it was the blues element mixed with gospel that earned her the nickname Queen of Soul. Franklin's talents included an extreme vocal flexibility, which meant that she could pretty much sing anything. She also had interpretive intelligence with an impeccable ear that led her intense ability to improvise. In addition, Franklin was also an accomplished piano player, able to sing and play at the same time in a way that seemed nearly impossible to other musicians, much like the late great Nina Simone.
Aretha Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the biggest selling artists of all time. Her 1967 hit "Respect" was originally written by Otis Redding, who was demanding respect from his wife when he came home from work, but the soul singer reimagined it into an anthem of empowerment that helped fuel the Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s. Her influence can be heard everywhere from current soul music all the way to country music and hip hop. In 2017, the Queen of Soul announced that she would no longer be playing shows, but still kept performing. She last performed at Elton John's AIDS Foundation gala in New York. You can read the family's full statement at the Aretha Franklin website. Rest in Peace and R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin.
Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul pic.twitter.com/jW4Gpwfdts— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) 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
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2018
Watching Aretha Franklin perform at the White House, and on so many other occasions, made time stand still. @BarackObama and I are holding Aretha’s family in our hearts right now. She will forever be our Queen of Soul. pic.twitter.com/NhHsbKijpl— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) August 16, 2018
Iconic. Beyond any level of fierce. The way she brought Obama to tears, tossed her fur coat to the ground, and effortlessly hit every single note with so much passion and love for the sound. https://t.co/nncoLpaoIq— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) August 16, 2018
thank you, Aretha. thank you from the depths of my heart & my soul. god bless and keep you always. @ Los Angeles, California https://t.co/gfuqXsf6Ga— benmont tench III (@benchten) August 16, 2018
R.I.P. Thank God for allowing us all to witness his love, brilliance, musical magic and grace in #ArethaFranklin. We were always honored when Aretha would just show up at one of our concerts... without warning.— Philip Bailey (@PhilipBaileyEWF) August 16, 2018
Hail to the Queen Of Soul!! pic.twitter.com/Ir4IlmKVbg
R-E-S-P-E-C-T— Stephen King (@StephenKing) August 16, 2018
When the legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler told me that he had recorded, The Weight with Aretha Franklin, I thought, how does it get better than that? When I heard their version, I was thrilled... https://t.co/V089niioyG— Robbie Robertson (@r0bbier0berts0n) August 16, 2018
I send my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Aretha Franklin. My prayers for comfort are with you all. I am so sorry for your loss.— Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul) August 16, 2018