Legendary American soul singer Aretha Franklin has passed away aged 76.
Franklin, who had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, died at her home in Detroit, surrounded by friends and family.
An official statement released by her publicist stated: "Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute."
Her family added: "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."
Often referred to as the Queen of Soul and widely regarded as one of the best singers of all time, Franklin released her debut album in 1956, and found global fame in the following decade, with a clutch of singles like Respect, I Say A Little Prayer and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
Over the course of her decade-spanning career, she made history in a number of ways. Not only was she the first ever woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (in 1987), she also performed at the inauguration of three US presidents: Jimmy Carter in 1977, Bill Clinton in 1993 and Barack Obama in 2009 (when she famously sang My Country, 'Tis Of Thee). She later performed for President Obama at the 38th Kennedy Centre honours ceremony in 2015, famously reducing the Predident to tears with her rendition of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.
The daughter of a Baptist preacher who helped organise a march for racial equality back in 1963, she also played a role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Her song Respect was adopted as something of an unofficial anthem by protesters, and she was later presented with a leadership award by Martin Luther King.
She had faced ill health since 2010, when it was announced that she'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but carried on singing live until 2017, when she announced her retirement. Shortly before this, she made her last performance at her home city Detroit's inaugural Detroit Music Weekend, performing a medley of at Aretha Franklin Way, the street named after her.
"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."
Former US president Barack Obama said "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."
Adele wrote: "I can't remember a day of my life without Aretha Franklin's voice and music filling up my heart with so much joy and sadness. Absolutely heartbroken she's gone, what a woman. Thank you for everything, the melodies and the movements."
Elton John tweeted a number of tributes: "The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen."
"She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday – and that meant so much to me."
Rest in peace Aretha. The world is in your debt.
This article originally appeared on Life & Style.
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