Aretha Franklin, whose impassioned, riveting voice made her a titan of American music, has died, her niece, Sabrina Owens, confirmed to the Free Press. She was 76.
She died at 9:50 a.m. surrounded by family at her home in Detroit.
A family statement released by her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.
The family added: “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.”
Franklin was the loftiest name in the rich history of Detroit music and one of the transcendent cultural figures of the 20th Century. Raised on an eclectic musical diet of gospel, R&B, classical and jazz, she blossomed out of her father’s Detroit church to become the most distinguished black female artist of all time, breaking boundaries while placing nearly 100 hits on Billboard’s R&B chart — 20 of them reaching No. 1.
The Queen of Soul, as she was coronated in the 1960s, leaves a sprawling legacy of classic songs that includes “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby I Love You,” “Angel,” “Think,” “Rock Steady,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Freeway of Love,” along with a bestselling gospel catalog.
Her death follows several years of painstakingly concealed medical issues, which led to regular show cancellations and extended absences from the public eye.
Visibly feeble but still summoning magic from her voice, Franklin played her final Detroit show in June 2017, an emotion-packed concert for thousands at an outdoor festival downtown.
Detroit Free Press