Sources close to the singer have confirmed that Aretha Franklin passed away in her Detroit home on Thursday following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Soul’ in the 1960s, Aretha was the first woman to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She was known for her powerhouse anthems like “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Her accomplishments in the late 1960s were remarkable by any standards, but especially for a black woman amid the Civil Rights movement, making her one the most extraordinary cultural figures to emerge out of the 20th century.
Aretha received 18 Grammy awards, three American Music Awards and three NAACP Image Awards throughout her 60+ year career. In 2005, she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, and in 2009 she performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
"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,” Aretha’s family shared in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family.”
Aretha leaves behind a sprawling legacy of chart-topping hits including “Chain of Fools,” "Baby I Love You," "Angel," "Think," "Rock Steady," "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Freeway of Love." She held the record for most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 list of any female artist for nearly 40 years until 2017.
“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,” the statement from Aretha’s family read. “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.”