Aretha Franklin The Queen Of Soul Has Died At 76: Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul and a music legend who enjoyed a career longer than many of her successors, died Thursday. She was 76.
Her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, confirmed her death to BuzzFeed News in a statement, saying she died at her home in Detroit at 9:50 a.m. local time. The cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.
“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,” her family said in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”
The family also said they had been “deeply touched” by the outpouring of love and support they had received in recent days after word first emerged the singer had fallen ill.
“We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on,” they said.
No other vocalist has reached the heights Franklin did during her monumental career. She is the most charted female singer in Billboard history, the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the winner of 18 Grammy Awards, and the “greatest singer of all time,” according to Rolling Stone.
“Aretha is still the best singer in the world, bar none,” the legendary record producer Clive Davis said in 2003. “She finds meanings in lyrics that the composers didn’t even know they had. She chills you, heats you, affects your soul. It’s exhilarating.”
Franklin was born in Memphis on March 25, 1942, to gospel singer Barbara Siggers Franklin and acclaimed Rev. Clarence LaVaughn “C.L.” Franklin.
By the time Franklin was 6 years old in 1948, her parents had separated; her father kept her in Detroit (where the family had moved right before she turned 4 so he could take over New Bethel Baptist Church), and her mother relocated to Buffalo, New York.
Her mother still visited her and her siblings often but died in 1952 when Franklin was 10 years old. It was around this time music became a central part of Franklin’s life, with gospel icons like Mahalia Jackson helping to raise her. She learned piano by ear and watched her father’s emotionally charged sermons gain him so much acclaim that civil rights movement figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Sam Cooke were knocking on his door as they toured the Deep South.
“It certainly was not what I was used to or accustomed to in Detroit,” Franklin later said. “There were times that we were asked to go to the back of the restaurant, say, or we couldn’t use the bathrooms.”
When Franklin was a teenager, she hit the road with her father on a gospel caravan tour and signed to J.V.B. Records. She released two gospel singles and headed on tour with performers like Cooke, whose transition to secular music inspired her to do the same.