Aretha Franklin was a true diva

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin dead: Queen of Soul passes away at age 76

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has died at her Detroit home at age 76.

The Queen of Soul's publicist Gwendolyn Quinn confirmed that Franklin died on Thursday at 9:50 a.m. surrounded by her family and loved ones at her home in Detroit.

When the death of Aretha Franklin was announced on Thursday morning, one USA president paid tribute to a voice that offered "a glimpse of the divine", in which Americans could feel "our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect". "We sincerely apologize to Aretha Franklin's family and friends", Jessica Santostefano, Vice President, Media Desk at Fox News explained.

Her long recording career was punctuated by iconic performances that could stir a nation, get an ordinary concertgoer out of their seat and dancing and reduce a sitting president to tears. "She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever".

Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson - who was Franklin's friend for over 60 years - told USA Today she helped pay for many civil rights tours and campaigns while King was alive.

'She will forever be the Queen of Soul and so much more to all who knew her personally and through her music. "By 1968, Franklin was an established soul chart-topper with hits like "Respect", "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

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Since rising to fame in the '60s, Franklin has been cited as the musical inspiration for countless contemporary performers, including Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera.

Franklin started touring as a teenager in her father's gospel show. In 1969, she laid down the album Spirit in the Dark, an 18-track recording met with rave reviews when it was released in the summer of 1970 - almost 48 years to the day that Franklin passed away.

Behind the scenes, the star first became a mother at 12 years old when she gave birth to son Clarence Franklin in 1955. "The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds", Franklin's family said. She performed at both of Bill Clinton's presidential inaugurations, for which the 42nd president said he would "always be grateful". News of her illness first emerged after the singer performed in November 2017 for Elton John's Aids Foundation concert.

Although Aretha was never signed to the Motown label, she was part of the Motown family. Columbia marketed her more as a jazz singer in the mold of Dinah Washington, with limited success. John Legend, Barbra Streisand and The Clintons were among the first to share touching notes about Franklin.

Her Baptist minister father was the organiser behind the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom - the largest-ever demonstration for civil rights in the USA until the March on Washington later that year, when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr made his "I have a dream" speech.

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