Aretha Franklin, the preacher's daughter whose powerful voice made her the long-reigning "Queen of Soul" with such hit songs as "Respect" and "Chain of Fools," died at the age of 76.
Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," ''I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer.
Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died on Thursday at 9:50am at her home in Detroit.
The statement said "Franklin's 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.
TRT World's Nicole Johnston reports.
The 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 statement continued:
"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."
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
Franklin, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.
TRT World's Staci Bivens reports.
A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time.
Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher's daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.
She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half-century, including 20 that reached No 1 on the R&B charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," to the wised-up "Chain of Fools" to her unstoppable call for "Respect."
Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn't honour her enough.
Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Fellow singers bowed to her eminence and political and civic leaders treated her as a peer. The Reverand Martin Luther King Jr was a long-time friend, and she sang at the dedication of King's memorial, in 2011.
She performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts. President George W.
Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honour, in 2005.
Franklin's best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang "My Country 'tis of Thee" at Barack Obama's inauguration. She wore a gray felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an Internet sensation and even had its own website.
In 2015, she brought Obama and others to tears with a triumphant performance of "Natural Woman" at a Kennedy Center tribute to the song's co-writer, Carole King.
Lucky enough to have seen Aretha live exactly once, and this was it.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) August 16, 2018
Thank you for the music, we will be listening to you forever https://t.co/aMHIBFaTAs
Of Franklin's dozens of hits, none was linked more firmly to her than the funky, horn-led march "Respect" and its spelled out demand for "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."
Writing in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004, Wexler said: "It was an appeal for dignity combined with a blatant lubricity.
There are songs that are a call to action. There are love songs. There are sex songs. But it's hard to think of another song where all those elements are combined."
In 1968, Franklin was pictured on the cover of Time magazine and had more than 10 Top 20 hits in 1967 and 1968.
At a time of rebellion and division, Franklin's records were a musical union of the church and the secular, man and woman, black and white, North and South, East and West. They were produced and engineered by New Yorkers Wexler and Tom Dowd, arranged by Turkish-born Arif Mardin and backed by an interracial assembly of top session musicians based mostly in Alabama.
Her popularity faded during the 1970s despite such hits as the funky "Rock Steady" and such acclaimed albums as the intimate "Spirit in the Dark." But her career was revived in 1980 with a cameo appearance in the smash movie "The Blues Brothers" and her switch to Arista Records.
We mourn the passing of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Her voice will keep lifting us, through the music she gave the world. Our thoughts are with her family, her loved ones and fans everywhere. Take her hand, precious Lord, and lead her home. 🎶 pic.twitter.com/I84HTEVZU1— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 16, 2018
Franklin collaborated with such pop and soul artists as Luther Vandross, Elton John, Whitney Houston and George Michael, with whom she recorded a No 1 single, "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)." Her 1985 album "Who's Zoomin' Who" received some of her best reviews and included such hits as the title track and "Freeway of Love."
Critics consistently praised Franklin's singing but sometimes questioned her material; she covered songs by Stephen Sondheim, Bread, the Doobie Brothers. For Aretha, anything she performed was "soul."
From her earliest recording sessions at Columbia, when she asked to sing "Over the Rainbow," she defied category.
The 1998 Grammys gave her a chance to demonstrate her range. Franklin performed "Respect," then, with only a few minutes' notice, filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and drew rave reviews for her rendition of "Nessun Dorma," a stirring aria for tenors from Puccini's "Turandot."
Franklin always made it clear that her story would continue.
"Music is my thing, it's who I am. I'm in it for the long run," she told The Associated Press in 2008. "I'll be around, singing, 'What you want, baby I got it.' Having fun all the way."