Legendary soul singer, Aretha Franklin passed away Thursday morning at 9:50 am in her Detroit home. She was 76.
Ms. Franklin died of pancreatic cancer, according to Gwendolyn Quinn, the singer’s publicist in a statement issued by the family.
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.
As detailed by Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, confirmed that she suffered from advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.
Rock, roll, and soul
Known for timeless ballads, Ms. Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
To date, she is one of the top award-earning singers who has crossed genres. From soul to classical, and even jazz to country, she enjoyed a musical career of more than five decades. Ms. Franklin had more than 100 singles on the Billboard chart with 88 being chart toppers; 18 Grammy awards, and a host of accolades, including the Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement in 2015.
A child prodigy on the piano, Ms. Franklin was born into a church-oriented household in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a minister. While her first public performances were in church, by the time she was a teen, Ms. Franklin moved to secular music when she signed to Columbia Records.
Her roster of music spans as long as her career. She performed all the way up to last year when her declining health forced her to cancel future shows.
One of her most recent highly noted performances was singing, “The Star Spangled Banner,” for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2008. She also received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T in activism
As much as Ms. Franklin was an artist, she also served as an activist.
Her music connected to various civil rights movements. More pointedly, the song “Respect” intersected Civil Rights, Black Power and Women’s Rights campaigns. Other songs such as “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Think,” “Spanish Harlem,” and even her later pieces such as “A Rose is Still a Rose,”a hip-hop infused uptempo track with Lauryn Hill, showed the wide range of vocal ability and profound understanding of music.
Aretha Franklin famously said, “Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”
In 1970, she offered to post the bail of Angela Davis while she stood trial in her legendary case for being accused of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy for assisting in an attempted prison break of Black liberation members.
“I know you got to disturb the piece when you can’t get no peace,” said Ms. Franklin to Jet magazine in a December 1970 interview.
This week, as reports surfaced that Ms. Franklin’s illness took a turn for the worst, the well wishes and prayers from dignitaries, world leaders and her fans flooded social media. In her passing, the reactions to her death have been more numerous.
Barack Obama Tweeted:
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. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
The Center for women tweeted:
“Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”
– Aretha Franklinhttps://t.co/QFLxG8djnO
— Center for Women (@c4womenchas) August 16, 2018
Paul McCartney of the Beatles tweeted:
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
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama Tweeted
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
At press time, burial arrangements have not been announced.