Aretha Franklin dead: Queen of Soul passes away at age 76

American soul singer Aretha Franklin a star on the Atlantic record label

Franklin had more than 20 United States number one hits over a career that spans back to 1952. In 1948, Barbara left her husband and moved back to Buffalo; she also left young Aretha and her three siblings, though there is evidence Barbara maintained contact with her children until her death, in 1952. Without her there could have been no Donna Summer, Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston (whose mother, Cissy, was one of the Sweet Inspirations, who often sang backup for Franklin); nor would there be a Janelle Monae, a Rihanna or a Beyoncé.

Franklin was born in Memphis, Tenn., on March 25, 1942.

She had battled various undisclosed health issues in recent years.

In 1967, the legendary singer decamped for Atlantic Records, where execs noticed her songwriting abilities, and she was encouraged to pen her own material, play her own gospel-tinged piano styles, and even hire her sisters as backup singers.

Franklin racked up a string of awards and accolades over her decades-long career for hits like "Respect" and "Chain of Fools".

Aretha was known for major hits such as Respect and I Say A Little Prayer, and had more than 20 USA number ones over the course of her career. "That wouldn't be good, for one, just to go somewhere and sit down and do nothing". But if it's alien to me, I couldn't lend anything to it. She would just text me out of the blue and say I saw something you did on CNN.

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has died
Singer Aretha Franklin performs during a concert at Madison Square Garden on June 28, 1968 in New York City, New York. She received our nation's greatest honor in 2005 when she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Her personal life was a struggle, however.

According to Associated Press, her cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Through gospel-influenced musical rearrangement, and her striking changes to melodic content, she effectively re-authored material written by others, asserting a sense of creative ownership through spirited and dynamic vocal performance. John introduced her as "The greatest singer of all time". Her cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" also rose to #47 on the charts in 2014. She stood up midway through the performance and threw off the coat, and the crowd - which included President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama - completely lost it. "Our thoughts are with her family, her loved ones and fans everywhere". In the '80s, she took on more of an elder-legend role, but she still had plenty of success. The acclaimed singer was the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards and received the The Presidential Medal Of Freedom in 2005. She began performing solos as an opening act for her father's preaching engagements, but Motown was calling.

She cancelled planned concerts earlier this year after she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest up.

Announcing her retirement, Franklin said she had been blessed.

In 1970, after their marriage broke down, Jet magazine reported that White was investigated for shooting Sam Cooke's brother, who attempted to protect Franklin when her husband turned up at her house.

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