Aretha Franklin dead: Queen of Soul dies aged 76 after cancer battle

Aretha Franklin

Music Legend Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, Dead at 76

Aretha Franklin will always be the undisputed Queen of Soul, and her legacy will live forever.

The statement continued: "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. "Aretha was one of the best-selling artists of all times and was popular for churning hits like 'Respect" and "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman".

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days, her publicist said. She also scored an worldwide number-one hit with "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", her duet with George Michael. Her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, was a pastor whose services were broadcasted in various television markets.

The Reverend Franklin was a charismatic figure but had also been arrested for drug possession and, under unexplained circumstances, his wife left him and their five children when Aretha was six. Barbara died weeks before Aretha's 10th birthday.

Franklin leaves behind her four sons - Clarence, Edward, Teddy and Kecalf.

Aretha's father became famous for his emotionally charged sermons, becoming known as "the man with the million-dollar voice". Consecutive gold albums in 1985 and 1986 meant Franklin was back, and judging by her record sales, she was better than ever.

She embarked on a professional singing career when she was 18 and achieved a measure of success while signed to Columbia records. No matter how the music has changed over the years, she remained so relevant. Her version of "Respect", from that first Atlantic album, written and previously recorded by Otis Redding, was both celebration and warning, an assertion of both racial pride and ball-of-fire womanhood.

More than peers like Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick and Natalie Cole, Franklin established the archetype of the modern pop diva: Possessed of blinding talent, and refusing to suffer fools who questioned it or rivals who challenged it. Respect became not just a song, but an order. "Before that decade was over, she had released such songs as "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman", "Think" and "Respect", which went on to become classics. Franklin propelled her career into the 1970s with acclaimed albums like the moving gospel showcase Amazing Grace and the critically acclaimed and musically adventurous LPs Spirit in the Dark and Young, Gifted, and Black.

Franklin was the high school dropout whose voice graced Martin Luther King Jr's memorial service, serenaded three presidents and whose voice was deemed so precious that it was declared a natural resource in the U.S. state of MI. But her career was revived in 1980 with a cameo appearance in the smash movie "The Blues Brothers" and her switch to Arista Records. Her collaboration with George Michael, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), reached Number 1 in 1987.

She performed at the inaugurations of former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and also sang at the memorial service for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.in 1968.

"She has been ill for a long time", a longtime friend of the star told People Magazine. Her two marriages ended in divorce. She was married to Ted White from 1961 to 1969, and later to Glynn Turman from 1978 to 1984.

Director Ava DuVernay called her "peerless".

Franklin, who turned 76 in March, has been battling health problems, but continued to perform until as recently as previous year. "And Smokey said, 'Well, they just don't know who your healer is, '" Franklin told The Associated Press at the time.

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