A young Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has died, a family statement said Thursday. She was 76 years old. According to a statement released on behalf of Franklin’s family by long term publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, Franklin died at 9:50 in the morning, at her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends. The “official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit”, the family statement said. 

Aretha Franklin performs at pre-inaugural festivities 1993

Born Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942, Franklin was raised by her father, a prominent minister and nationally known gospel singer. Franklin sang in the choir of her father’s church and, though she declined her dad’s offer of piano lessons and taught herself instead, began recording gospel music at age 14. 

Franklin and George Michael at his Faith World Tour 1988

Franklin was the first woman admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had 88 Billboard chart hits, and at the peak of her career she had more than two dozen Top 40 hits. Franklin was known and admired for her stunning voice and ability to make a song her own. She made the incredible ‘Respect’, written by Otis Redding, a call to arms. ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’, a Carole King song, into an expression of sensuality, and ‘Think’, which she wrote with her then-husband, Ted White, became a rallying cry for women fed up with lousy men.

Franklin at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Gala 2017

When the news broke on Thursday, millions of prayers, tributes, and tears came flooding in, mourning and celebrating the Queen of Soul, whose music touched so many lives during her career, which spanned over half a century. President Obama released a statement reading, “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.”

We at Spectrum FM will never forget Aretha. The world has lost a truly amazing talent. May she rest in peace. 

For more about the Queen of Soul… 

Tune into Spectrum FM this Saturday, from 3:00 onwards, for an Aretha Franklin documentary. 

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