Aretha Franklin died at age 76 on Thursday, August 16, Us Weekly can confirm. The singer had been battling cancer and passed away in her home in Detroit.
“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul,” Franklin’s family said in a statement via her longtime publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn. “Franklin, 76 years old, passed away on Thursday morning, August 16 at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones. 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, MI.”
The statement continued: “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. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world,” the family added. “Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Franklin’s publicist also noted that funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
On Monday, August 13, a source told Us that Franklin was “comfortable at home” but “not doing well” and that her body was “breaking down.” Earlier that morning, Detroit’s WDIV-TV reported Franklin was “gravely ill” and asking for fans’ prayers. Later that morning, the NBC affiliate announced the singer was “resting and surrounded by close friends and family.”
Mayor Mike Duggan also released a statement concerning her passing.
“Few people in the history of our city have been as universally loved or left as indelible a mark as Aretha. From the time her father gave Aretha her start in the New Bethel choir, it was clear to everyone how special she was. She was a performer without peers. Throughout her extraordinary life and career, she earned the love — and yes, the respect — of millions of people, not just for herself and for women everywhere, but for the city she loved so dearly and called home,” he said on Thursday.
He continued: “I was honored to present Aretha with the key to our city last year and her last concert in Detroit. While she may have passed, Aretha Franklin will always have the key to our hearts.”
The 18-time Grammy winner had battling health issues since 2010. Her ailments were never publicly disclosed, but in 2011 she denied that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as had been rumored at the time.
Franklin, the daughter of pastor and civil rights activist C. L. Franklin, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1942. After growing up singing gospel music, she achieved stardom in the late 1960s with such hits as “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Think.” She sold more than 75 million records throughout her career and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2010, Rolling Stone hailed the “Queen of Soul” as the greatest singer of all time.
In February 2017, Franklin revealed she was officially retiring. “I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now,” she told WDIV-TV at the time. “I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.”
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Franklin is survived by four children: Clarence Franklin, 63, Edward Franklin, 61, Ted White Jr., 54, and Kecalf Cunningham, 48.
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