Say a little prayer for Aretha Franklin: Iconic soul singer passes away at 76

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Legendary singer Aretha Franklin has passed away at the age of 76, following time in hospice care.

Franklin died Thursday morning, August 16, in her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement from her longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn. The Associated Press reports that her official cause of death was due to “advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.”

Dubbed the “Queen of Soul,” by supporters around the world, Franklin sang on some of the most iconic songs of the past half century, including hits such as R.E.S.P.E.C.T., Think, and I Say A Little Prayer, among countless others.

Social media has been full of tributes to the late musician ever since news of her illness first became widespread in August, with famous musicians and friends such as Stevie Wonder and Reverend Jesse Jackson visiting Franklin in her final days. Celebrities such as Chance The Rapper, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and countless others paid tribute to Franklin on social media following the news of her imminent demise.

“Like people all around the world, Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight & listening to her music that has been such an important part of our lives the last 50 years,” read a particularly touching tweet sent by former President Bill Clinton about the news. “We hope you’ll lift her up by listening and sharing her songs that have meant the most to you.”

Franklin had reportedly been in failing health for years, and had a history of canceling performances due to unspecified illnesses. The singer officially stopped touring in February of 2017. But even after she stopped her touring career, she continued to book one-off concerts at acclaimed venues, using her voice to support causes that she believed in. Her final performance appears to have been at a private event for Elton John’s AIDS foundation in November of 2017.

Franklin famously sang at the memorial service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as at the inaugurations of Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. She also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, an honor bestowed by President George W. Bush.

In addition to being beloved by powerful and influential political figures around the globe, Franklin was also beloved by music critics throughout her six-decade career. Franklin was nominated for 44 different Grammy Awards in her lifetime, earning an astonishing 18. In 1987, she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was also the youngest person in history to receive the Kennedy Center Honor at the time when she accepted the award in 1994 at the age of 52.

Franklin’s final album, called A Brand New Me, was released in 2017. She will be remembered as a profoundly important part of the musical universe, as well as an artistic icon of the American civil rights movement.

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