‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin Dies at the Age of 76

Brenda Watkins
August 16, 2018

The official cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family".

They have said funeral arrangements will be announced "in the coming days".

Nicknamed the "Queen of Soul", Franklin won more than a dozen Grammy awards, including eight consecutive wins for best R&B vocal performance, according to IMDB.

- Her voice is unparalleled.

Her five-decade career also saw Aretha sing at the inaugurations of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and boasts a total of 18 Grammy awards. "By 1968, Franklin was an established soul chart-topper with hits like "Respect", "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

After she turned 18, Aretha made a decision to change her focus from gospel to secular music and signed a new contract with one of the biggest labels out there, Columbia Records in 1960.

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. Over the next six years, she rolled out eight solo albums to positive reception, but middling sales.

Aretha found modest success during her time with Columbia, achieving her first top 40 single with Rock-a-Bye Your baby with a Dixie Melody, which garnered her some worldwide fame.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Barbara and Clarence LaVaughn Franklin. Franklin died in Detroit, which is where she spent most of her childhood and adult life.

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Her father led the city's New Bethel Baptist Church, which became a centre for the civil rights movement. She often did not get along with other women singers, including her sisters, could be quick to fire underlings and was erratic when it came to showing up for concerts and appointments.

Resilient and soulful anthems were released throughout the 1970s on new albums like "Spirit in the Dark", "Young, Gifted and Black" and "Amazing Grace".

"Aretha has everything - the power, the technique", Rolling Stone wrote. "It's one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, lose the weight and the cigarettes", she told Jet in 2007. "She does not seem to be performing so much as bearing witness to a reality so simple and compelling that she could not possibly fake it".

Some of Franklin's most successful years professionally were also her most turbulent personally.

Aretha leaves behind four children.

As Franklin transitioned into "diva mode", she became famous (and infamous) for awesome performances mixed with health scares.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Franklin's performances marked certain pivotal moments in USA history.

While married to White, Franklin had an extramarital relationship with road manager Ken Cunningham that lasted several years.

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