Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, passes away at 76


Known as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin passed away Thursday at her home in Detroit. She was 76.

Aretha Franklin has died at 76, confirmed by her publicist to the Associated Press. The singer passed away Thursday at her home in Detroit. The Queen of Soul leaves behind an award-winning and historic legacy of music, including being the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Franklin’s family has released the following statement, and have confirmed the cause of the singer’s death was due to her battle with pancreatic cancer.

"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.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."

News of Franklin being “gravely ill” was first reported Sunday evening by Detroit’s Showbizz 411 reporter Roger Friedman. People spoke to a source close to the family on Monday, with them saying Franklin had “been ill for a long time,” but “she did not want people to know and she didn’t make it public.” No further details have been released as to what was the cause of her decline in health.

Detroit WDIV anchor Evrod Cassimy shared the following updates on Monday after speaking to Franklin himself:

TMZ reported that the singer’s weight had gone down to 85 pounds, reportedly due to a battle with cancer according to their source. In April 2011, the singer had spoken with People months after a reported hospitalization for an unknown operation. The singer denied having bariatric surgery and did not address cancer rumors. Instead, she told the magazine:

"I feel fabulous, really. And I’m so thankful to all of the people who said a little prayer for me. People at the check out line in the market were telling me that they prayed for me. It’s amazing how beautiful people can be."

In February of 2017, Franklin had said she was going to retire from music, saying in a statement, “I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it.” Yet in August of last year, she returned to the stage to perform at the Mann Center in Philadelphia.

Her performance, while celebrated, also concerned fans as there was a noticeable change in her appearance. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered Franklin’s performance, describing it as follows:

"Franklin seemed largely undiminished in voice or spirit, even if her exclamations sometimes soared past the limits of her breath. A comfy-looking red armchair sat prominently at center stage but went unused, despite the diva’s complaints about walking in heels as she hiked her shimmering white gown to cross the stage."

The singer was set to perform this spring but had to cancel concerts scheduled for March and April under doctor’s orders. Her most recent public outing was last November at an Elton John AIDS Foundation event.

With a groundbreaking musical journey that started in Detroit, Aretha Franklin is a singer many have known by name and note. Having sung classic hits such as “Respect” and “Natural Woman,” Franklin was revered as one of the most prolific singers of our time. Over her lifetime, Franklin was a Kennedy Center Honoree, won 18 Grammy Awards, and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her humanitarian work.

Aretha Franklin was set to release her next album titled A Brand New Me in November.

Our thoughts are with Franklin’s family and loved ones.