Aretha Franklin Has Died, & the World Is Paying Tribute to Her

Aug 16, 2018 at 11:15 a.m. ET
Aretha Franklin performs onstage during the 'Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives' Premiere Concert
Image: Noam Galai/Getty Images For Tribeca Film Festival.

On Aug. 16, we said a sad goodbye to an absolutely legendary woman and performer. The Associated Press confirmed on Thursday morning that, per a statement from her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin died in her Detroit home after a grave illness put her in the hospital early in the week. She was 76 years old.

More: Aretha Franklin Is Reportedly "Gravely Ill" & Currently in the Hospital

The family statement, released to AP, said, “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" 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.”

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The Recording Academy released a statement following Franklin's death that read: 

"Aretha Franklin was an incomparable artist who came to be recognized as one of the most profound voices in music. Known universally as the Queen of Soul, she solidified her legendary status in the late 1960s with chart-topping recordings that included 'Respect,' 'A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like),' and 'Think.' During her six-decade career Aretha earned 44 GRAMMY® nominations, 18 GRAMMY Awards, and was recognized by the Recording Academy™ on several occasions for her remarkable accomplishments as an artist and philanthropist. We were privileged to honor her with the Recording Academy's GRAMMY Legend Award in 1991, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, and as the 2008 MusiCares® Person of the Year for her extraordinary artistic achievements and charitable efforts. Her distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings, and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide. Aretha will be dearly missed, and our thoughts go out to her loved ones during this difficult time."

When news of her death hit social media Thursday morning, an outpouring of grief came from seemingly every corner of the internet. Director and producer Ava DuVernay tweeted some of Franklin's lyrics as well as a thank you to the late performer: "'Looking out on the morning rain / I used to feel so uninspired / And when I knew / I had to face another day / Lord, it made me feel so tired / Before the day I met you / Life was so unkind / But you’re the key to / My peace of mind.' Her voice/swagger was peerless. Thank you, #ArethaFranklin."

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John Legend tweeted, "Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known." He included several prayer hands emojis and #Aretha.

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Ricky Martin tweeted, "Today we have lost one of the greatest. She will always be remembered and admired. Aretha Franklin, rest in peace. We love you."

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Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted, "Lucky enough to have seen Aretha live exactly once, and this was it. Thank you for the music, we will be listening to you forever," along with a version of the video above, where Franklin performed "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

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And Shonda Rhimes tweeted, simply, "Aretha."

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Mark Anthony Neal, host of Left of Black and professor at Duke University, tweeted simply an image: an Apollo Theater marquee reading, "She's Home" and Franklin's name.

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Other celebrities, including Paul McCartney, Carole King and Barbra Streisand, also took to Twitter shortly after news of Franklin's death emerged to pay their respects to the music icon. 

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More: All the Celebrities We've Lost in 2018

This list from Esquire showcasing 10 of Franklin's best vocal performances is a great way to celebrate her life today as we look back on everything she gave to the music industry, the Civil Rights movement and women everywhere. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 (!) and her impact will never, ever be forgotten. Rest in peace, Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul. You blessed us all with your voice.

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