Aretha made her last ever performance last November in NY, at an Elton John Aids Foundation gala.
Aretha Franklin, known famously as "The Queen of Soul", has died at age 76, KSAT 12's sister station WDIV in Detroit reports. "But to me personally, Aretha Franklin was my dear, dear friend, my homegirl, and I loved her a lot", record executive Berry Gordy said in a statement Thursday. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family", the statement added.
'We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.
Franklin's talent brought her into contact with a number of other global figures as well, most notably in 2015 when she performed for Pope Francis during his September visit to the US. "As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this hard time", the family's statement continued.
They have said funeral arrangements will be announced "in the coming days". Franklin propelled her career into the 1970s with acclaimed albums like the moving gospel showcase Amazing Grace and the critically acclaimed and musically adventurous LPs Spirit in the Dark and Young, Gifted, and Black.
At the Grammy Awards in 1972, where she won the fifth of her 18 trophies: A regal scarlet shawl embroidered with gold, swirled around her sturdy Afro. A gifted singer and pianist, Franklin toured with her father's travelling revival show and later visited NY, where she signed with Columbia Records.
To say Franklin is on the Mount Rushmore of pop divas does her no justice at all. She gave birth to her first child, Clarence, when she was 14 years old and had another son, Edward, 14 months later.
After half a century in the music business, Franklin created her own label and released "A Woman Falling Out of Love", a record that only had modest sales in the U.S and stayed on the Billboard charts for just two weeks. Her collaboration with George Michael, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), reached Number 1 in 1987.
She signed with Columbia records in 1960, releasing her first album The Great Aretha Franklin.
Beyond Respect, her powerful cover of Otis Redding's tune that became her calling card, Franklin had a string of Top 40 singles, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her mother died before Franklin was 10 and she was primarily raised by her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, a talented yet promiscuous preacher.
But the "Queen of Soul" gained global popularity after signed with Atlantic Records in the mid-1960s.
It included Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Kid Rock on the same stage, at the same time. "We just want to send love and prayers".
That same year she was tapped to sing at the memorial service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where she performed a stirring rendition of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand".
Franklin had two children from relationships when she was a teenager. She turns the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" into an eloquent honky-tonk lament, changing the lyrics to the first-person, shifting the action-and the pure loneliness described in the song-onto herself: "I'm Eleanor Rigby", she sings.
"My prayers are with Aretha Franklin and her family during this hard time", tweeted rapper Missy Elliott. She and Ted were married from 1961-69.
In the past few years, she regularly cited doctor's orders for cancelling notable concerts, including a Canada Day show in Toronto on the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and several New Jersey gigs, such as the one to mark her 76th birthday in March.
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