Aretha Franklin, The ‘Queen of Soul’, Dies At 76
Aretha Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul”, died at 9:50 a.m., according to a family report. Franklin passed away peacefully at home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends. The cause of death has been confirmed as pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years old.
Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Barbara and Reverend C.L. Franklin. Her mother was a singer and her father was a Baptist minister and gospel singer known nationwide as “The Man with the Million Dollar Voice.” The family moved to Detroit in 1944 and Barbara left the family when Aretha was just six years old; she died four years later. Franklin learned to sing and play piano during her childhood and was already performing solos in her father’s church choir at 10 years old. Franklin began to tour with her father and got to know many of her family’s famous friends such as Mahalia Jackson, Smokey Robinson and even Martin Luther King Jr. At age 14, Franklin gave birth to her first son and recorded her first album, Songs of Faith.
Franklin moved to New York in 1960 to continue her music career but only enjoyed moderate success until she signed with Atlantic Records in 1966. She moved from Gospel music to R&B and Soul and finally found her voice. In 1967, Franklin released her album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You to great success, with the title track becoming her first Top Ten hit. Within the next two years, Franklin would release some of her most iconic songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, and “Baby I Love You”. She won several Grammy Awards, a spot on the June 1968 issue of Time Magazine, and earned her nickname “Queen of Soul”. Even more important than her already legendary role as a singer, Franklin became a symbol in both the Civil Rights Movement and the feminist movement.
Franklin would continue to enjoy wild success over the next several decades. In the 1980s, Who’s Zoomin’ Who? became her first platinum album and her duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” earned her an international Number One hit. Franklin performed at both Bill Clinton‘s and Barack Obama‘s presidential inaugurations and was given the National Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005. Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won 18 Grammy Awards in total.
Franklin’s health began to decline in 2010, resulting in her necessity to cancel several shows over the next few years. She kept performing, however, and her last live performance was with Elton John in November of 2017 for his AIDS benefit concert. Franklin’s final album A Brand New Me debuted that same month.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Franklin was hospitalized. She received a large outpouring of support from friends and fans on social media. On Monday night, Beyonce and Jay-Z dedicated their concert in Detroit to the “Queen of Soul,” sending their well-wishes to her by performing “Respect.”
Ever since the news of her death broke, Twitter has been flooded with tributes for the Queen of Soul. Franklin’s family has issued a statement thanking friends and fans for their support and has asked for privacy at this time. “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,” the statement read. “We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.” Funeral details are expected to follow in the next few days.