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.
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.”
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.”
“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 pic.twitter.com/5gp0OP10Jf
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 16, 2018
John Legend tweeted, “Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known.” He included several prayer hands emojis and #Aretha.
Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 #Aretha
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 16, 2018
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.”
Today we have lost one of the greatest. She will always be remembered and admired. Aretha Franklin, rest in peace. We love you.
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) August 16, 2018
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.
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 https://t.co/aMHIBFaTAs
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) August 16, 2018
And Shonda Rhimes tweeted, simply, “Aretha.”
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 16, 2018
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.
— Mark Anthony Neal (@NewBlackMan) August 16, 2018
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.
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
— Carole King (@Carole_King) August 16, 2018
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This photo was taken in 2012 when Aretha and 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.
The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled. Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone. For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note. I loved her so and love her still. Goodbye, Queen of Soul.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) 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
The Queen of Soul has left this earth to sit on her throne in heaven. How blessed we were to hear the best that God had to offer in her voice. RESPECT!
📷: Mark Seliger pic.twitter.com/v9OxtyrZ74
— Lenny Kravitz (@LennyKravitz) 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
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.