Pronounced by many as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin has died at 76 on August 16th, at her home in Detroit. The legendary singer died of pancreatic cancer, after being treated at a hospice for days. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts”, Franklin’s family wrote in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family… As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time”.
Franklin was born in Memphis, and was raised in Detroit for much of her childhood. She started out singing in a church with her sisters, and released her debut album Songs of Faith at age 14. In 1960, she signed with Columbia Records, before moving to Atlantic in 1966. In her duration at Atlantic, she released many of her biggest hits, such as “Respect”, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, and more. She also found success via covering popular hits from other artists, among them Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”. She left Atlantic in 1979, but continued a streak of hits through the ‘80s, as well a scene-stealing cameo in the 1980 classic The Blues Brothers.
Franklin’s musical output became less frequent later on, but she still often remained in the public eye. She performed at several presidential inaugurations, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. She was reportedly working on a final album at the time of her death, with help from Stevie Wonder.
We will remain on the lookout for more information following Franklin’s death.