Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, has died at 76

Circa 1968

Circa 1968

Aretha Franklin, a singer who began her career with gospel music and was later crowned the "Queen of Soul", died Thursday (Aug. 16) after battling a range of health issues.

Rapper and fashion designer Pharrell Williams shared a 1972 Los Angeles recording of Franklin singing Mary Don't You Weep.

- The Motown Museum in Detroit is paying tribute to the Queen of Soul this weekend after her passing. "As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this hard time", the statement concluded.

"For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls", he said, adding that she was "elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry". A biopic, Queen of Soul, will star Jennifer Hudson, who Franklin considered one of her first choices to play her.

She continued, "Just as they welcomed #ArethaFranklin to their hearts during their lifetime, both my father and mother have welcomed the #QueenOfSoul to their heavenly home". I adored her and worshipped her talent. Aretha has passed away with $60 million (£47 million) to her name. News of her illness first emerged after the singer performed in November 2017 for Elton John's Aids Foundation concert.

Perhaps her most breathtaking performance took place at the 1998 Grammy Awards, when Franklin was called upon to fill in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and deliver the stirring aria "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot.

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Then Franklin hit that note: "You make me feel like a natural woman".

The resulting album, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You", shot her into super-stardom - with its hit single "Respect" rocketing to number 1.

The two Blues Brothers films marked Franklin's only big-screen performances - but that was more than enough to cement her cinematic legacy. In 2009, for the inauguration of Barack Obama, she performed "My Country, 'Tis of Thee". I will always remember the words of encouragement that she whispered to me.

Whether at Wrestlemania or the World Series, it can't be disputed that Aretha Franklin was one of the greatest of all time at opening a sporting event. "Everything she's thinking or dealing with is all in the music, from "Chain of Fools" to "Respect" to her live performances". In 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

She was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago in 2010 and last year announced her retirement from music. That same year, Detroit named a street after her.

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