The Queen of soul.
The world has lost a member of music royalty.
According to E!NEWS , Aretha Franklin, the 18-time Grammy-winning “Queen of Soul” has died. The late legend passed away at home in Detroit on Thursday, the star’s publicist confirmed to the Associated Press (via NBC News). She was 76 years old.
Reports emerged of her failing health earlier this week as family members and sources close to Franklin revealed to the press that she was very ill. According to some reports, she was suffering from cancer. Per many outlets, the star was surrounded by family and close friends in her final days.
While loved ones mourn the star, colleagues and fans from all over the world are heartbroken over her untimely passing.
Long before she was moving audiences worldwide with her signature four-octave pipes, Memphis-born Franklin was serenading people in the pews as a soloist in a Baptist church in Detroit where her father, Reverend Clarence C.L. Franklin, served as pastor after permanently relocating the family. Following her parents’ separation and her mother’s death, Franklin’s well-known father later toured the country giving sermons and the musical hopeful went along for the ride.
Citing her father as a coach and gospel singer Clara Ward as her mentor, Franklin pursued what was at the core of her passions. “I love to sing—it’s just a natural thing for me,” she once said in an interview on PBS NewsHour. “Just my natural love for music is what drove me.”
With Clarence as her manager, the budding star and ear-trained pianist landed her first record deal and released her debut studio album, Songs of Faith, at 14 years old. 41 studio albums, six live albums and dozens more compilation albums followed in the course of her historic career spanning seven decades and multiple genres. A decade after Faith, the performer garnered her first number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with Otis Redding‘s “Respect” in 1967 and shot to international stardom. The hit became synonymous with the then-25-year-old powerhouse, was reborn as a civil rights and feminist anthem and garnered her her first Grammy nomination and win the next year. With the albums that followed, Franklin shaped music history with iconic hits like “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Think.”
Her success was not lost on the industry as her list of record-setting accolades seemed limitless. She was honored by the Recording Academy with a Grammy Legend Award in 1991 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. Franklin was nominated and won her first and only Golden Globe Award for “Best Original Song” in 2007 for “Never Gonna Break My Faith” and dabbled in film with roles in movies like The Blues Brothers and its 1998 sequel.
In 1987, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was the youngest recipient at the time when she received the Kennedy Center Honors at the age of 52 in 1994.
“Her greatest achievement, perhaps, has been the ability to break down boundaries, to appeal to this country’s vast range of musical tastes,” the Kennedy Center said at the time.
In addition to performing at the inaugurations of three United States presidents—most recently for former President Barack Obama in 2009—she was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President George W. Bush in 2005.
Still, Franklin canceled some performances in the following years citing unspecified medical treatment or “doctor’s orders.” By February 2017, Franklin announced her plans to retire from performing in concert that year and was last photographed on stage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Fall Gala that November.
As the songstress responded simply, “Aretha.”