Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul,' dead at 76

(FOX NEWS) – Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul” whose recordings of such classics as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” made her the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died Thursday of advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Franklin died at her Detroit home at at 9:50 a.m.

“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,” the singer’s family said in a statement to the Associated Press. “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.”

In subsequent months, she canceled scheduled performances in Boston and Toronto with management again saying that her doctors had told her to “stay off the road and rest completely.”

At one of her last public performances, in June 2017, she closed out a free concert in her hometown of Detroit with the message: “God bless you, God keep you, keep me in your prayers.”

Born in Memphis but raised in Detroit, Franklin began singing in church as a youngster – her father was a Baptist minister – and during her lifetime crossed multiple music lines. Known for her soul recordings, she also shone at R&B, jazz, blues and gospel music and was a songwriter and pianist as well as a singer.

Over the course of her career, Franklin received multiple honors, including The National Medal of Arts and The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In January 2009, she sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama and her much-commented-on, oversized gray bow hat subsequently made its way to the Smithsonian Museum.

Franklin was born March 25, 1942 to Rev. C. L Franklin and his wife Barbara, but her parents split shortly after moving to Detroit when she was six. Her father was a popular preacher and she grew up with gospel greats like Albertina Walker and Mahalia Jackson visiting her home.

By 14, Franklin had released her first album, “Songs of Faith” and began touring on the gospel circuit until she became a teenage mother of two sons.

By 18, she had signed with Columbia Records and moved to New York, where her talents quickly brought her fame – and a title. In 1965, during a show, the M.C. gave her a crown and declared her the “Queen of Soul.”