Music icon Aretha Franklin has passed away at the age of 76, NewsOne reports. The legend died after a hard fought battle against advanced pancreatic cancer. Franklin passed away in her Detroit home surrounded by family and friends.
Stories surrounding Franklin’s diminishing health circulated the press for years, with the most recent dating back to a 2017 statement from her rep dismissing rumors she was on her deathbed.
Because her health status so frequently circulated the news cycle, fans waited in vigil over the last 48 hours, hoping the star would pull through. The world paused with the heartbreaking news she passed this morning.
A statement from her family reads: “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.”
Continuing, “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.”
Cathy Hughes, the Founder and Chairperson of Urban One, Inc., who counted Aretha Franklin as a close friend, issued the following statement following the announcement of the Queen of Soul’s death on Thursday:
Today I join my community, my industry and the world in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of my dear sister, friend, and ally, Aretha Franklin. I send my love and offer prayers of grace and peace to the members of her family, her friends and colleagues who walked alongside her and shared her with tens of millions of fans around the world.
I have so many fond memories of Aretha. Throughout her career, I was blessed to share her music and her iconic story. I am humbled to have been a part of her journey and to have served as an eyewitness to the evolution of her artistry and the formation of her legacy.
For more than 60 years, Aretha Franklin shared her gift and touched the world. She was a musical pioneer whose voice defines an era, amplifies a sound and reflects the range of who we are as black people. It is no wonder that Rolling Stone Magazine listed her as number one on its list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”
Aretha’s music commanded “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and that song not only became a rallying cry during the civil rights movement but also served as an anthem for women who still identify with its message, today. Her timeless classics also became historical markers in our personal journeys and our collective story as a community. She understood her progress was our progress, her success was our success, and when the door opened for her, it opened for us as well. Aretha was unapologetically black. She was committed to black music and black radio. She understood its role in her career and remained loyal to our company across the years.
Like many of our musicians, Aretha’s musical roots are embedded in the black church, and gospel music was at her core. Her talent transcended genres and not only earned her the title of the “Queen of Soul” but also the distinction of being the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And while many will remember her for all of the titles she has received, I believe, Aretha Franklin, in her own words, said it best, “being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that.” And Aretha Franklin, so are we. Rest in peace my sister.
With total love, respect and appreciation,
Born in Memphis before relocating to Detroit, Franklin owned one of the most powerful voices and talents in music history. Her most notable hits included “Respect,” and “Natural Woman.” Franklin’s music has scored 77 Hot 100 chart slots, amounting to 18 Grammys. Franklin made history as the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.