Aretha Franklin, whose epic voice had her lauded as the Queen of Soul, died Thursday at her Detroit home at age 76.
“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 singer’s family said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Aretha Franklin’s family members told a Detroit TV station earlier this week that she was “gravely ill,” and Thursday’s statement said she died from advanced pancreatic cancer.
Aretha Franklin, a legendary voice silenced
Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25, 1942, and cut her teeth performing in front of her father’s congregation at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, NBC News reported.
Her debut album, “Songs of Faith,” was released in 1956, and she had her first No. 1 R&B hit in 1967 with “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).”
Soon after, she released her rendition of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” which became a feminist and civil rights anthem and hit the top of the pop charts.
Aretha Franklin won the first two of her 18 Grammy Awards for “Respect,” which Rolling Stone named the fifth-greatest song of all time.
She became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and went on to win three American Music Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also performed at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Celebs react to Aretha Franklin’s death
Fans, celebrities and others immediately flocked to Twitter when news broke that Aretha Franklin had died.
“So sad. Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul has passed away,” tweeted Gene Simmons of Kiss. “Our prayers and condolences to family, friends and fans.”
So sad. Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul has passed away. Our prayers and condolences to family, friends and fans.
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) August 16, 2018
“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,” Paul McCartney wrote. “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”
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
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote that Franklin “used the power of her unforgettable voice to lift up others and shine a light on injustice. Today we mourn the Queen.”
Aretha Franklin used the power of her unforgettable voice to lift up others and shine a light on injustice. Today, we mourn the Queen.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 16, 2018
This tribute was spotted at a New York City subway station: