Legendary American performer Aretha Franklin has passed away aged 76 after a lengthy and mostly private battle with pancreatic cancer.
She passed away on August 16 at 9:50am in her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends.
Franklin had been cancelling performances due to her failing health since February 2017, one of them her much anticipated participation in the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
“Official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit,” said her family in a public statement.
This photo was taken in 2012 when Aretha & I performed at a tribute celebration for our friend Marvin Hamlisch. It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer,but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world pic.twitter.com/Px9zVB90MM
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) August 16, 2018
Franklin was perhaps the most successful female artist of the 20th century, in a career that spanned five decades and influenced the evolution of soul, pop, rock and blues. She sold more than 75 million records, won 18 Grammy Awards, and became the first female musician ever to be inducted in the Rock and Roll hall of fame.
Take the commercial appeal of Madonna, sum it to the vocal prowess of Beyonce and then multiply that by a hundred – and the analogy still falls short. Franklin’s music had an omnipresence in radio from the 60s to the 80s, with songs that play as hymns for every decade.
Been listening to this for the past couple of days. What an amazing illustration of the spirit that is @ArethaFranklin
Listen to this, look up to the stars and know she is with the Master now.https://t.co/tjxCIzmciX
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) August 16, 2018
“Respect”, for example, is not only one of the songs that helped define the sound of the 60s, but also inspired civil rights movements to this day.
Franklin’s 1972 album Amazing Grace earned double platinum certification, selling over two million copies and still standing as the highest selling live gospel music album of all time.
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
And how can we forget “Freeway of Love” and her duet with George Michael “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”, two of those absolute iconic hits of the 80s.
Franklin’s passing has shocked the world, inciting the tribute and respects of many personalities that range from Paul McCartney to Pharrell Williams.
One of the most heartfelt and resounding was that of former US President Barack Obama, who invited her to perform in 2015 at the White House in a concert that is now legendary.
“Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“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. 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.”
‘R.E.S.T.I.N ☮️, civil rights activist, Queen of Soul, thank you from Bono, The Edge, Larry and Adam’ pic.twitter.com/wW0HkUwuVZ
— U2 (@U2) August 16, 2018
The Queen of Soul has left this earth to sit on her throne in heaven. How blessed we were to hear the best that God had to offer in her voice. RESPECT!
📷: Mark Seliger pic.twitter.com/v9OxtyrZ74
— Lenny Kravitz (@LennyKravitz) August 16, 2018
Even NASA paid tribute to the lauded musician, reminding the world that her legacy is so grand, it goes beyond our planet.
Godspeed, dear Aretha, you will be missed.
We’re saddened by the loss of Aretha Franklin. Asteroid 249516 Aretha, found by our NEOWISE mission and named after the singer to commemorate the #QueenOfSoul, will keep orbiting beyond Mars. See more details: https://t.co/NlW4vkmKDq pic.twitter.com/yZ0E5ofSQT
— NASA (@NASA) August 16, 2018