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Posted: August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin dies at 76

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
What You Need To Know: Aretha Franklin

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk


The "Queen of Soul," legendary singer and songwriter Aretha Franklin, died Thursday from advanced pancreatic cancer, her publicist said in a statement. She was 76.

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Franklin died at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit from “advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type,” publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said in a statement.

“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,” Franklin’s family said in a statement released by Quinn. “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.”

>> ‘Thank you, Aretha’: Fans, friends remember the ‘Queen of Soul’

Family members thanked Franklin’s fans and friends for their support.

“Thank you for your compassion and prayers,” the statement said. “We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.”

Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in the coming days.

President Donald Trump mourned Franklin on Thursday, writing in a tweet that, “She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.”

“She will be missed!” he wrote.

Franklin performed at former President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, shared sympathies for Franklin’s family and fans in a statement.

“Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, 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,” the former president wrote. “She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called Franklin “a performer without peers” in a statement released after her passing.

>> Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dies: A look back at her legacy 

“Throughout her extraordinary life and career, she earned the love -- and yes, the respect -- of millions of people, not just for herself and for women everywhere, but for the city she loved so dearly and called home,” Duggan said. “I was honored to present Aretha with the key to our city last year and her last concert in Detroit. While she may have passed, Aretha Franklin will always have the key to our hearts.

Friends, fans and celebrities took to social media to mourn Franklin:


Family members confirmed Monday to WDIV-TV that Franklin, 76, was gravely ill after a report from entertainment site Showbiz411 claimed she was being surrounded by friends and family in Detroit.


Tom Joyner, a nationally syndicated radio host and friend of Franklin’s, said Monday that Franklin has been in hospice care for a week, according to The Detroit News.

Franklin had announced plans to retire from touring in February 2017 to focus on her family and a few select projects, the News reported.

>> Beyonce dedicates Detroit OTR II show to Aretha Franklin

"I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now,” Franklin told WDIV in 2017. “I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn't be good either.”

Franklin canceled several concerts this year due to health issues, Fox13Memphis reported. According to The Associated Press, “she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up.”

She performed  in her hometown of Detroit in June 2017, the Detroit Free Press reported. She ended the concert with an appeal for those in the crown to, “Please keep me in your prayers,” according to the newspaper.

>> Photos: Aretha Franklin through the years

She last performed in November at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation gala in New York City, the News reported.

Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her family moved to Detroit when she was young, according to Fox13Memphis.

Franklin started singing when she was young, with encouragement from her mother, Barbara, and her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin. She started out singing gospel but launched a career in secular music after she turned 18. She rose to fame after signing in 1967 with Atlantic Records.

>> The best Aretha Franklin songs: A timeline

Franklin’s career, spanning six decades, spawned hits including “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.” She’s considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide.

Franklin was inducted in 1987 to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She earned 18 Grammy Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush described Franklin as “a woman of achievement, deep character and a loving heart.”


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Aretha Franklin 'gravely ill': reports

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Aretha Franklin 'gravely ill': reports

Aretha Franklin performs onstage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 7, 2017 in New York City.
Aretha Franklin’s long version of national anthem goes viral

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Aretha Franklin’s long version of national anthem goes viral

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, and while her rendition of the national anthem was soulful before Thursday’s NFL game between Detroit and Minnesota, some critics believed the song was too long.

Those naysayers were drowned out by Franklin's fans, who said they needed to show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

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Franklin wore her trademark fur coat and a Detroit beanie to signify her hometown. She sat down at a piano and belted out a 4-minute, 35-second version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Her version brought the house down at Detroit's Ford Field, and her performance quickly went viral.

For reference, the average length of the last ten Super Bowl national anthems has been just under two minutes.

Twitter had a field day with the song’s length, and so did the game’s broadcaster, CBS. The network put up a graphic that showed not only the time of possession by the Lions and Vikings, but also by Franklin.

But Franklin’s legion of fans responded in kind, defending the song’s length.

“That was a gospel version of the #NationalAnthem,” tweeted John Miller (@jfreemon63) “It's called seasoning folks. Prep takes longer ... but it tastes better.”

            Aretha Franklin announces retirement

Carl Court/Getty Images

Aretha Franklin announces retirement

Aretha Franklin has been singing professionally for almost 60 years, but has announced that she will be retiring at the end of 2017.

The Queen of Soul told WDIV that she will be recording an album of all original content this year that is scheduled for release in September, and then will retire from performing live.

Her nearly year-long farewell will also include a tour that will include only one appearance a month over a six-month period.

>> Read more trending news  

She said she will still record, but 2017 will be the end of her concerts.

"I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from, and where it is now. I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn't be good either."

Franklin told WDIV that she wants to spend time with her grandchildren before they leave for college.

Franklin will turn 75 in March and has had health problems recently, Billboard reported.

According to Biography:

  • Franklin started singing in her church and released her first album "Songs of Faith" in 1956 on a small label. After taking a brief break after having a child at the age of 14 and a second at the age of 16, she signed with Columbia Records, releasing the album "Aretha" in 1961.
  • In 1966, she changed labels, signing with Atlantic, where she released music, with background musicians like Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, including "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)."
  • Her biggest hit was released in 1967. "Respect" reached number 1 on both the R&B and pop charts. She also won the first of two Grammy Awards.
  • She also had Top 10 hits, including: "Chain of Fools," "I Say a Little Prayer" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
  • As disco became popular, Franklin saw her career start to fade, until a cameo in 1980's "The Blues Brothers."
  • In 1985, she recorded a pop album "Who's Zoomin Who?" with the single "Freeway of Love."
  • Franklin, an 18-time Grammy winner, was honored in 1987 as the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • She performed for two inaugurations - one for President Bill Clinton in 1993, and again in 2009 for President Barack Obama. She was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor.
  • In 2003, she founded Aretha Records and two years later, in 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Detroit gives Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin a little ‘Respect,’ naming street in her honor

David Guralnick/AP

Detroit gives Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin a little ‘Respect,’ naming street in her honor

The Queen of Soul can now drive her “Pink Cadillac” down Aretha Franklin Way in downtown Detroit after the city renamed a portion of Madison Avenue in the city’s theater district outside the Detroit City Music Hall in her honor.

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An emotional Franklin wiped away tears as a large crowd gathered last Thursday to watch as the new street sign was unveiled.

She called the newly renamed street a “resplendent and magnificent honor,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

This is just the latest honor giving Franklin, 75, more R-E-S-P-E-C-T in a long list of honors over her decades long career.

The soul singer’s accomplishments include a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the No. 1 ranking on Rolling Stone’s all-time greatest singers list and her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to name a few.

>> Related: Aretha Franklin announces retirement

Franklin, a native Detroit, who spent her childhood singing gospel music in her father’s church, has won 18 Grammy Awards and is considered one of the best-selling artists of all time, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide.

Jennifer Hudson to play Aretha Franklin in upcoming biopic

Jennifer Hudson has been chosen to play Aretha Franklin in an upcoming biopic by the Queen of Soul herself, according to legendary record producer Clive Davis.

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Rolling Stone reported that Davis announced the news while introducing Hudson at a pre-Grammys gala in honor of JAY-Z, where Hudson performed a medley of Franklin’s hits.

“When the biopic of the great Aretha Franklin is filmed next year, the artist anointed by Aretha herself to play her is the next performer. Aretha personally told me that last week,” Davis said of the Oscar- and Grammy-winning actress and singer.

“This artist to us is a transcendent performer. She stops any and every show she’s in. Her voice is truly incredible. When they ask, ‘Where’s the next Aretha, where the next Aretha will come from?’ I say it’s (Hudson). She’s in the studio right now recording what I hope will be a classic album … She’s in the tradition of Adele; she’s a singer’s singer.”

Related: JAY-Z honored, stars celebrate at Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala

Deadline reported a that a biopic about Franklin has quietly been in development at MGM.

At one point in time, Franklin leaned toward selecting Halle Berry for the role. In 2011, she told Billboard that the movie would primarily feature her own recordings. “A lot of movies come out where it’s the original artist and their songs are lip-sung to. That is how it would turn out if it’s Halle. If not — if, for instance, it’s Jennifer Hudson — she might sing one or two, but the rest would still be my original records. We’re definitely going to use the original records. I may re-record some things, too.”

Hudson earned an Academy Award in 2007 for best supporting actress for her role in “Dreamgirls,” a 2006 movie inspired by Motown and The Supremes which was based on the successful 1981 Broadway musical.



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