The Queen of Soul - who first performed in a gospel choir as a child – achieved worldwide fame and performed for over 60 years. Tributes have floo
The Queen of Soul – who first performed in a gospel choir as a child – achieved worldwide fame and performed for over 60 years.
Tributes have flooded in for “boundary breaking” soul legend Aretha Franklin, who has died aged 76 after suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.
US presidents past and present joined entertainment stars and fans across the globe in remembering the Queen of Soul following her death on Thursday, with Barack Obama and wife Michelle describing her as “divine and unmatched”.
Her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn, confirmed that the singer had passed away at 9.50am local time at her home in Detroit, Michigan.
In a statement, her family labelled her as “the matriarch and rock of our family”, and said her death was “one of the darkest moments of our lives”.
They thanked fans around the world for their “compassion and prayers”, adding: “We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.”
The singer – born on 25 March, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, to a preacher father and pianist and vocalist mother – had cancelled recent shows due to ill health, and was later reported to be seriously ill.
“Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience,” they said.
“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.
“She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”
Another former president, Bill Clinton, said in a joint statement with wife Hillary that Franklin was “one of America’s greatest national treasures”.
Describing her as “elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry”, the Clintons went on: “She will forever be the Queen of Soul and so much more to all who knew her personally and through her music. Our hearts go out to her family and her countless fans.”
The current incumbent of the White House, Donald Trump, said on Twitter: “The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!”
Reverend Jesse Jackson, who had visited Franklin at her home in recent days, tweeted a picture of the singer with the words: “A lot of music left the earth today. The Heavens rejoice. Rest in heavenly peace.”
American singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder had also visited the singer at her home earlier this week.
Numerous other artists – including Beyonce, Jay-Z and Mariah Carey – sent their best wishes on hearing she was seriously unwell, and later issued their own tributes.
In a three-part message posted on Twitter, Carey described her as “the greatest singer and musician of my lifetime”.
Record company Atlantic Records, to which Franklin was signed, has described her as “boundary-breaking”, while Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman said her music would “live on forever”.
Diana Ross praised her “wonderful golden spirit”, Billy Joel said she was “the greatest singer of our time”, and Adele revealed she was left “absolutely heartbroken” by news of her death.
Rolling Stones stars Keith Richards and Sir Mick Jagger paid tribute, with the latter saying: “Wherever you were, she always brought you to church.”
Beatles duo Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr both issued their own messages, as did Liam Gallagher, who simply tweeted: “RIP Aretha Franklin – what a voice.”
Franklin – who passed away on the same day fellow music icon Elvis Presley died in 1977 – had makeshift memorials set up in her name across the US, including outside the Apollo Theater in Manhattan, New York.
Her 30 Greatest Hits album quickly soared into the number one spot on iTunes, replacing Nicki Minaj’s new album, and an Aretha Franklin playlist also went to the top of Spotify.
Franklin had announced her partial retirement last year, with her most recent performance coming in November at Sir Elton John’s Aids Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala in New York.
Rising to fame in the 1960s, perhaps her best known song is the cover of Otis Redding’s classic hit Respect, reaching number one in the US and the top ten in the UK.
She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Named the best singer of all time by Rolling Stone in 2013, she received 18 Grammy awards over the course of her career, which began after being part of a gospel choir as a child and an accomplished pianist and singer by her late teens.
She recorded hundreds of tracks during her legendary career, achieving dozens of hits and 20 number one hits on the R&B charts.
Along with Respect, some of her other most beloved tracks include (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, I Say A Little Prayer and Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.