Remembering Aretha

Singer, songwriter and pianist Aretha Louise Franklin died at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement on behalf of Franklin’s family from her longtime publicist.

Tributes have been flooding since the news of that the QueenAretha-Franklin-1969-ANDY-WILLIAMS-SHOW-billboard-650 of Soul – who first performed in a gospel choir as a child has passed away.

The “official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit,” the family statement said.

US presidents past and present joined entertainment stars and fans across the globe in remembering the Queen of Soul following her death on Thursday, with Barack Obama and wife Michelle describing her as “divine and unmatched”.

Her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn, confirmed that the singer had passed away at 9.50am local time at her home in Detroit, Michigan.

In a statement, her family labelled her as “the matriarch and rock of our family”, and said her death was “one of the darkest moments of our lives”.

They thanked fans around the world for their “compassion and prayers”, adding: “We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.”

The singer – born on 25 March, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, to a preacher father and pianist and vocalist mother – had cancelled recent shows due to ill health, and was later reported to be seriously ill just a few days ago.

Franklin sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, and the former president  was quick to issue a powerful tribute with his wife. Even former president, Bill Clinton, said in a joint statement with wife Hillary that Franklin was “one of America’s greatest national treasures”.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, who had visited Franklin at her home in recent days, tweeted a picture of the singer with the words: “A lot of music left the earth today. The Heavens rejoice. Rest in heavenly peace.”

American singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder had also visited the singer at her home earlier this week.

Numerous other artists – including Beyonce, Jay-Z and Mariah Carey – sent their best wishes on hearing she was seriously unwell, and later issued their own tributes.

In a three-part message posted on Twitter, Carey described her as “the greatest singer and musician of my lifetime”.

Franklin had announced her partial retirement last year, with her most recent performance coming in November at Sir Elton John’s Aids Foundation’s 25th anniversary gala in New York.

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