A family spokesman for Aretha Franklin released a statement on Thursday informing the world that the 76-year-old gospel and soul singer had died. Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said the ‘Queen of Soul’ was surrounded by family and friends at her home in Detroit when she passed away. Dr. Phillip Phillips of Detroit’s Karmanos Institute for Cancer confirmed that the cause of death for Franklin was pancreatic cancer.
Former United States President Barack Obama issued a statement regarding the death of Franklin saying that she was a woman that helped to define the experience of many Americans.
Reports had stated that Franklin’s health was failing for a number of years and in recent months she looked frail on the rare occasions that she was seen in public. Franklin and her family kept her health struggles private but announced in February of 2017 that she would no longer be performing in concert. Frankin did, in fact, both book and perform at concerts following the announcement but was advised by doctors earlier in the year to cancel two appearances.
The last public performance by the Queen of Soul was in November when she made an appearance at a gala in New York that was put on by the Elton John Aids Foundation.
The professional career of Aretha Frankin spans more than five decades and the hits she produced are numerous and iconic. Her song ‘Respect,’ which was written by Otis Redding, became a call to arms for women. There was ‘A Natural Woman,’ which served as an artistic expression of female sexuality. And Franklin’s hit song ‘Think,’ which he wrote along with her ex-husband Ted White, became the official rallying cry for women that refused to accept mistreatment from the men in their lives.
When all was said and done Aretha Franklin had produced 88 hits that reached Billboard charts during the rock era. This feat was enough for her to become the first woman inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Franklin also enjoyed an eight-year period from 1967 to 1975 during which she produced more than two dozen Top 40 hits.
Aretha Franklin was the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards in addition to accomplishing a feat that perhaps will never be duplicated: Franklin was honored with Grammys for the top female R&B performance for eight consecutive years.
The voice of Aretha Franklin was officially declared to be a national resource by the Legislature of Michigan in 1986.