Franklin died at 9:50 a.m.at her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement on behalf of Franklin's family from her longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family", he said. "The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds", her family said in a statement.
Aretha was known for major hits such as Respect and I Say A Little Prayer, and had more than 20 United States number ones over the course of her career. "While most of us know her for her classic songs like "Respect" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", there was more to the vocal powerhouse than met the eyes.
Franklin, who had announced retirement plans in 2017, had hoped to continue touring in 2018.
She followed up the next year by writing "Think", another tune that railed against her abusive husband while reflecting larger problems in society.
Originally written by her old friend Sam Cooke, to whome she refers throughout the song, the tune speaks to a deep longing of the soul. She has sold millions of copies of her records and went on to win 18 Grammy awards. "I'll never forget her", she said.
Many are remembering her not just for her presence and energy on stage, but for her ability to blend in with the fabric of Detroit. The last time she appeared in public was at the Elton John AIDS Foundation party in NY last November and her last performance was in Philadelphia in August 2017.
In 2000, Aretha Franklin returned for Blues Brothers 2000, reprising the role of Mrs. Murphy, this time performing "Respect".
And with Martha Stewart, the singer swapped out a mic for a kitchen knife, showing the domestic doyenne how to prepare her glazed pineapple ham with scalloped potatoes. She had been battling advanced pancreatic cancer.
She had ended the performance with what were see as cryptic words at the time: "Please keep me in your prayers".
The roots of Franklin's life and music could be found in the church.
Former US President Barack Obama took to his Twitter on August 17 (Aug. 16 in the United States) and paid homage to the soul institution herself.
Twenty years ago at Radio City Music Hall, the Queen of Soul turned into the Queen of Opera when she came to the rescue of the show as a last-minute substitute for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti on the Puccini aria "Nessun dorma". The 1998 Grammys gave her a chance to demonstrate her range. People loved Aretha. She was a special woman. To honor her mentor and civil rights icon, Franklin volunteered to sing at his funeral.