Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul', dies aged 76

Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76.

The Detroit native had been ‘gravely ill' for several days, and died surrounded by friends and family, who asked for prayers.

Today, her publicist confirmed that the legend died at her home in Detroit on Thursday.

Franklin – who was dubbed The Queen of Soul – was best known for her hit
songs Respect (You Make Me Feel) A Natural Woman, Think and Spanish Harlem.

The American legend was said to be ‘extremely disappointed' when she was forced to pull out of one of her last shows in March 2018.

The star had previously cancelled another date in August 2017, when she dropped out of headlining the Martha's Vineyard Concert series at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, due to an undisclosed medical condition.

Radio host Tom Joyner, a close friend of Franklin's, announced before her death that the 18-time Grammy winner has been in hospice care for a week; sources close to Aretha told TMZ they had been informed a week prior to ‘prepare yourself, she's dying.'

The insider added to the publication that Aretha was down to 86 pounds and her health was failing and that they were told ‘she could go any time.'

Another source close to the singer told TMZ she has been battling cancer.

Veteran entertainment reporter Roger Friedman said before her death: ‘Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her. She will be so missed as a mother, sister, friend, cousin.

‘But her legacy is larger than life. It's not just that Rolling Stone called her the number 1 singer of all time, or that she is the Queen of Soul. Long live the Queen.'

The star has suffered from ill health in recent years and cancelled a number of gigs in 2010 to have emergency surgery. She denied reports that she had pancreatic cancer a few years later, although later admitted to having had a tumour removed.

The actor had previously called time on her legendary career, following one final album release, a collaboration with Stevie Wonder which was released last September.

She said at the time: ‘I must tell you, I am retiring this year. I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now.'

One of her final performances was in December 2015, when she gave a spine-chillingly brilliant performance of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors during the section for honoree Carole King, who co-wrote the song.

The star – who recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard – also won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and passed away as one of the best-selling musical artists of all time with a career spanning over five decades.

Franklin found success in Hollywood starring in the 1980 musical comedy film Blue Brothers which also starred the late James Brown, Carrie Fisher and Ray Charles.

The I Say A Little Prayer hitmaker received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979 and her voice was declared a Michigan ‘natural resource' in 1985.

In 1987, Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Franklin, who was made Whitney Houston's honourary ‘aunt' by family, leaves behind four sons.

She became pregnant at the age 12 in 1955 with her son Clarence. At the age of 14 in 1957, Franklin had a second child named Edward.

Franklin's third child, Ted White, Jr., was born in 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards and has provided guitar backing for his mother's band during live concerts.

Her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham born in 1970, is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.


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