Aretha Franklin, the music icon, legendary singer and “Queen of Soul” loved by millions whose history-making career spanned six decades, died on Thursday, her longtime publicist announced. She was 76.
She influenced generations of female singers with unforgettable hits including “Respect” (1967), “Natural Woman” (1968) and “I Say a Little Prayer” (1968). She passed away at home in Detroit from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The multiple Grammy winner cemented her place in US music history with a powerful, bell-clear voice that stretched over four octaves. In a career crossing generations, her hits spanned soul and R&B, to gospel and pop.
Franklin passed away at 9:50 am (1350 GMT) surrounded by her family and loved ones, her family said in a statement issued by her publicist.
“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” the statement said.
“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.”
Funeral arrangements would be announced in the coming days, the family added, thanking fans around the world for their “incredible outpouring of love” since it first emerged earlier this week that she was gravely ill.
“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.”
The 18-time Grammy award winner inspired multiple singers during her five-decade career from pop diva Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston, to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and the late Amy Winehouse.
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