Legendary singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin, long known as the Queen of Soul, died Thursday in Detroit. She was 76.
Franklin suffered from pancreatic cancer. In a statement, Franklin’s publicist said,
“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.”
Franklin started performing at a young age, when she would sing gospel music in the Detroit church where her father was a minister. Though she began singing professionally in the early 1960s, it was in 1967 that her musical career took off, after she signed with Atlantic Records. Before that decade was over, she had released such songs as “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” “Think” and “Respect,” which went on to become classics. Her “Queen of Soul” moniker followed shortly after her initial commercial success.
The singer ultimately sold more than 75 million records worldwide, while becoming the most-charted female artist in Billboard’s history, with a total of 112 charted singles. Her many accolades included 18 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe win and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the first female performer to receive such an honor).
Though she battled numerous health issues throughout her career, many of which were illnesses undisclosed at the time, Franklin continued to record songs and perform live until very recently; her last public stage appearance was at an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in November 2017.