The Queen of Soul is gone.
Aretha Franklin, the sensational songbird whose voice was sweeter than honey to millions, making her an inspirational American icon and one of the most admired vocalists of all time, died Thursday after battling advanced pancreatic cancer. She died surrounded by family and loved ones at her home in Detroit, her publicist said. She was 76.
“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’s family said in a statement through publicist Gwendolyn Quinn. “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. We have felt your love for Aretha, and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Franklin died at 9:50 a.m. local time, with the official cause of death “due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type,” confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, but raised in the Motor City, Franklin was firmly rooted in gospel but also excelled in the worlds of jazz, R&B and pop. She collected 20 Grammys — including a lifetime achievement award — covering a span of four decades; was the first woman enshrined into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987); and, befitting a queen, was named No. 1 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time
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