Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, passed away on Aug. 16. She was 76 years old.
The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer.
Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.
The statement said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.
The 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. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
WATCH BELOW: A look at Aretha Franklin’s life.
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. 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.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
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.
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Condolences started pouring in on Twitter once news of her passing spread.
Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 #Aretha
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 16, 2018
Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 16, 2018
The Clintons on Aretha Franklin pic.twitter.com/aAp3zHyHXW
— Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovan) August 16, 2018
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 pic.twitter.com/jW4Gpwfdts
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 16, 2018
Aretha was such a timeless inspiration to me and so many others, the ultimate queen, thank you for the gift of your voice, music and unshakeable soul 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/me3FXBY4WZ
— Christina Aguilera (@xtina) August 16, 2018
Rest in Power, Ms. Aretha. You were the Queen. Your rendition of “Respect” launched a revolution. Our condolences go out to the Franklin family and all of her fans worldwide. – The Redding Family https://t.co/GzudOmBH5M #ArethaFranklin
— Otis Redding (@OtisRedding) August 16, 2018
— Smokey Robinson (@smokeyrobinson) August 16, 2018
It was a double thrill for me to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on my 85th birthday and have the Queen of Soul (and heart) Aretha Franklin singing with me….she will be missed by the world. pic.twitter.com/74VM9IYejI
— Tony Bennett (@itstonybennett) August 16, 2018
The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus. I wanted to share this photo because it shows just how soulful Aretha was without uttering a word. To say I was humbled to be in her presence would be an understatement. pic.twitter.com/R2lxjXwDO8
— Faith Hill (@FaithHill) August 16, 2018
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 16, 2018
Lady Soul. The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fane, Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music. Long live the Queen. pic.twitter.com/V3khKRPyX5
— Rock Hall (@rockhall) August 16, 2018
The moment I wake up, before I put on my make up, I say a little prayer for you
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) August 16, 2018
One of the highlights of my career was singing with #ArethaFranklin at The Tony Awards. It was an out of body experience for me. One of greatest singers of all time. You will be missed by all. https://t.co/L8dIIhyR9Y
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) August 16, 2018
Goodbye Ms. Aretha. You were my idol. The greatest singer of all time. Every note you sang was pure and authentic and pierced our hearts with joy and pain and life.
— Idina Menzel (@idinamenzel) August 16, 2018
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) August 16, 2018
This photo was taken in 2012 when Aretha & I performed at a tribute celebration for our friend Marvin Hamlisch. It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer,but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world pic.twitter.com/Px9zVB90MM
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) August 16, 2018
#RIP to the Queen of Soul and Detroit legend Aretha Franklin. She was one of the greatest singers ever, and we were honored to perform with her several times in the late 90s, including a tribute concert to Rosa Parks in 1999. pic.twitter.com/l8FWcaNhiw
— Detroit Symphony (@DetroitSymphony) August 16, 2018
I am so saddened by the passing of an American icon who defined this nation’s music. We loved Aretha – she also made us proud. Through her unparalleled gift and hard work she spoke for people too often without their own voice. She – and her artistry – were gifts to us from God pic.twitter.com/rncUnrh0ZV
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) August 16, 2018
Rest in Peace to an icon and the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin ❤️ pic.twitter.com/4YLQwja1Gf
— SAINT HERON (@SaintHeron) August 16, 2018
I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing. She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world. (1/2)
— Clive Davis (@CliveDavis) August 16, 2018
Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend. Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness. (2/2)
— Clive Davis (@CliveDavis) August 16, 2018
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Her voice will keep lifting us, through the music she gave the world. Our thoughts, and prayers are with her family, her loved ones and her fans everywhere. Take her hand, precious Lord, and lead her home. Amen🎶 pic.twitter.com/1I637Y0tnh
— Pastor West (@Pastor__West) August 16, 2018
Queen… My Queen. pic.twitter.com/6olvvLPISd
— Anita Baker (@IAMANITABAKER) August 16, 2018
Deeply saddened by the passing of a beloved friend and queen/warrior Aretha Franklin. Her contributions are legendary both personally and societally. We hope you take a pause today to remember the life of a beautiful soul. pic.twitter.com/ce4ht2g0ha
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 16, 2018
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Aretha Franklin.
Aretha was a groundbreaker and an icon whose legacy will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/dmYrfpDOjC
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) August 16, 2018
I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) August 16, 2018
The loss of @ArethaFranklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. pic.twitter.com/ug5oZYywAz
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 16, 2018
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) August 16, 2018
WATCH: Fans dance to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Rock Steady’ outside Apollo Theatre
“If you hear a song like Respect on the radio, that rippled through society in a way that a song being released today would never do,” Global News music commentator Alan Cross said.
Cross continued: “There is not a female singer in the soul, rock, R&B, hip-hop genre that doesn’t owe something to Aretha Franklin. We can go with Whitney Houston, we can go with Beyoncé, we go can with Mariah Carey, We can go with Lauryn Hill, the list is absolutely endless. All these people looked up to the way Aretha did things and the way she sang.”
“This was the era before auto tune and studio trickery, it was just pure voice and pure emotion with no tweaking at the source,” Cross said.
Franklin, who was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, TN, announced her retirement from touring in 2017.
The Natural Woman singer stepped on stage in June 2017 in Detroit at the city’s inaugural Detroit Music Weekend.
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She performed a medley of fan favourites on Aretha Franklin Way and received the key to the city of Detroit.
Her final public performance took place in New York on Nov. 7, 2017 at Elton John’s AIDS foundation. She closed the gala celebrating the foundation’s 25th anniversary with a collection of songs.
WATCH BELOW: Footage from Aretha Franklin’s final public performance
A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher’s daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.
WATCH: People gather outside Aretha Franklin’s childhood home in Memphis to honour Queen of Soul
She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half century, including 20 that reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, to the wised-up Chain of Fools to her unstoppable call for Respect.
Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn’t honour her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Fellow singers bowed to her eminence and political and civic leaders treated her as a peer. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a longtime friend, and she sang at the dedication of King’s memorial, in 2011. She performed at the inaugurations of U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts. Former U.S. President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour, in 2005.
Franklin’s best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang My Country ’tis of Thee at Barack Obama’s inauguration. She wore a grey felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an Internet sensation and even had its own website. In 2015, she brought Obama and others to tears with a triumphant performance of Natural Woman at a Kennedy Center tribute to the song’s co-writer, Carole King.
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“American history wells up when Aretha sings,” Obama said in 2015. “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.”
She only released a few albums over the past two decades, including A Rose is Still a Rose, which featured songs by Sean (Diddy) Combs, Lauryn Hill and other contemporary artists, and So Damn Happy, for which Franklin wrote the gratified title ballad. Franklin’s autobiography, Aretha: From These Roots, came out in 1999, when she was in her 50s. But she always made it clear that her story would continue.
WATCH BELOW: Footage from Aretha Franklin’s final public performance
“Music is my thing, it’s who I am. I’m in it for the long run,” she told The Associated Press in 2008. “I’ll be around, singing, ‘What you want, baby I got it.’ Having fun all the way.”
She was married from 1961 to 1969 to her manager, Ted White, and their battles are widely believed to have inspired her performances on several songs, including (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone, Think and her heartbreaking ballad of despair, Ain’t No Way. The mother of two sons by age 16 (she later had two more), she was often in turmoil as she struggled with her weight, family problems and financial predicaments. Her best known producer, Jerry Wexler, nicknamed her “Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows.”
Franklin married actor Glynn Turman in 1978 in Los Angeles but returned to her hometown of Detroit the following year after her father was shot by burglars and left semi-comatose until his death in 1984. She and Turman divorced that year.
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She is survived by her four sons Clarence Franklin, Edward Franklin, Ted White Jr. and Kecalf Cunningham.
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— With files from The Associated Press and Chris Jancelewicz
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.