Published: Thu, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin, "Queen of Soul", is dead at 76

Aretha Franklin,

Franklin recorded a gospel album when she was just 14 and four years later signed with Columbia Records, where she produced eight albums and reached global success with hit songs like "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody".

Her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said in a statement: "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".

It is possibly why Barack Obama labelled her music as embodying the connection between African-American culture and the experiences felt by many throughout U.S. history. "This is it." Franklin said she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren.

She also performed at the inaugurations of three presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Franklin, the long-reigning Queen of Soul who sang with matchless style on such classics as Think and her signature song, Respect, was originally diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to parents Clarence and Barbara Franklin. "That wouldn't be good either", she added.

The world she grew up in was one in which gospel singing took centre stage, and where the growing popularity of her father's driving sermons led to his mission being visited by various performers like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.

The 76-year-old has battled ill health in recent years but continued to tour and record. But her career did not truly take off until she signed for Atlantic Records in 1966. Franklin died in Detroit, which is where she spent most of her childhood and adult life.

Franklin was the recipient of numerous honors including 18 Grammy Awards. The songstress was married twice, first to Theodore "Ted" White in 1961, but the marriage was reportedly abusive and they divorced by 1969.

Personally, the star struggled with her weight throughout most of her life and had been a longtime smoker. I will be recording, but this will be my previous year in concert. Her first single "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)" led to other successful tunes, including "Respect", "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man", and "Dr. Feelgood".

Obama said in 2016 that "nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll - the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope" more than Franklin.

Franklin appeared on the cover of TIME in 1968, with a story that commended the "fierce, gritty conviction" of her voice.

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