Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer. A family statement said that Franklin died on Thursday at her home in Detroit in the U.S.
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.” Franklin, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.
She will be remembered for matchless style on classics such as Think , I Say a Little Prayer and her signature song, Respect . 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 the courage to channel private pain into liberating song. 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. She performed at the inaugurations of former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. 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 U.S. President was in January 2009, when she sang My Country ‘tis of Thee at Barack Obama’s inauguration. 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.
“Music is my thing, it’s who I am. I’m in it for the long run,” she said in an interview in 2008. “I’ll be around, singing, What you want, baby I got it . Having fun all the way.”
courtesy THE HINDU