Aretha Franklin, American legend and “Queen of Soul,” passed away Thursday morning at her home in Detroit surrounded by family and friends.
The singer, who died of pancreatic cancer, had been struggling with her health for years, causing her to halt touring and cancel performances, such as this year’s Jazz Fest.
Franklin’s professional singing career began in 1960 when she was signed to Columbia Records at only 18 years old. Seven years later, she recorded the seminal hit, “Respect,” followed by dozens more, such as “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think.”
Franklin became known not only for her powerful voice but also her ability to infuse her music and performances with unmatched emotional depth.
Throughout her life and career, which spanned more than five decades, Aretha evolved into a cultural icon, performing at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral and President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and becoming the first female performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
With over 100 singles in the Billboard charts, 18 Grammys, and over 75 million records sold worldwide, Franklin’s legacy holds strong.
“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 been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” read a statement released by her family.
Rest in peace, Aretha.