Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, passed away yesterday morning at age 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Fellow musicians, celebrities, politicians, and fans alike are heading to social media to share their memories of the star and send prayers.
The singer/songwriter/self-taught pianist’s family released a statement through publicist Gwendolyn to The Hollywood Reporter, thanking the world for their support and asking that their privacy is respected during their time of grief.
“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…We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters, and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers,” the statement read.
Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul pic.twitter.com/jW4Gpwfdts— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 16, 2018
Other music legends like Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand, and Elton John have shared their favorite photos with Franklin and expressed their shock over this great loss. “It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world,” Streisand posted along with a picture of the two from 2012.
Franklin sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. After she passed away, Obama tweeted photos of the singer and said that she “helped define the American experience.”
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
Franklin had several hits in the late 1960s, including “Think,” “Natural Woman,” and “RESPECT.” She had over 100 singles in the Billboard charts throughout her career and received 18 competitive Grammy Awards. The Queen of Soul was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1994, she received a lifetime achievement award.
Today’s pop stars, some who have cited Franklin as a musical inspiration, are struggling with the loss as well. In addition to tweeting a photo of herself with Franklin, singer Ariana Grande performed her own tribute to Franklin on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon just hours after she passed away. Grande sang a rendition of Franklin’s “Natural Woman” with The Roots. Initially, she refused to perform the song, telling producers that she was too emotional, according to Fox News. Upon exiting the stage after her performance, Grande reportedly broke down in tears.
According to People, the “RESPECT” singer’s health had been in decline for years prior to her passing. She preferred to keep her illness private, but after a mystery surgery in 2010 it was revealed that she had pancreatic cancer. Following the surgery, Franklin reported that she felt much better and that her doctor added 10-15 years to her lifespan by performing the surgery.
Over the years, however, she frequently canceled planned performances due to health reasons. In her final week, a close friend reported that Franklin had been seriously ill and that her death was “imminent.” She died early Thursday morning with her family and friends at her bedside in her home in Detroit.
What’s your favorite Aretha Franklin memory? Share it with us in the comments.