It is with a heavy heart that I write about the passing of Aretha Franklin, who died this morning at her home in Detroit. Growing up, Aretha’s golden voice filled every room of my grandparent’s home, as she joined in a chorus made from other musical icons such as Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Patti LaBelle, Mary Wells, Teddy Pendergrass, and Nina Simone, among others. Known to many as The Queen of Soul, Aretha passed at 9:50 AM ET after a bout with pancreatic cancer, her publicist confirmed. After gathering themselves, Ms. Franklin’s family released a statement about her death, saying that the “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.
You can read the full statement from Aretha’s publicist below:
It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul, in a statement issued by Franklin’s family through 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.
“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. 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.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
Word of Aretha’s failing heath began circulating over the weekend, at which point fans and loved ones began celebrating the icon in pre-memorial, both in real life as well as on social media. In her time, Aretha became known as a master of her craft and a gift to the musical genres of Soul, Gospel, R&B, Pop and beyond. Artists that have followed in her footsteps had trained themselves on her legendary vocals, and many hoped to one day hold a candle to her glory. She was the daughter of C.L. Franklin, a minister in Detroit. It was through the church that Aretha honed her gift for song, channeling her faith into fierce melodies at the tender age of 18. In time, Aretha was the proud songstress of such smash-hits as “Think (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Spanish Harlem” and the anthem-style “Respect,” a tune that would eventually touch the lips of every woman on the planet.
In addition to her creating over 100 songs on the Billboard charts, Aretha also appeared as the vivacious Mrs. Murphy in the John Landis directed adventure comedy BLUES BROTHERS (1980). In the film, Ms. Franklin delivered an electrifying performance of her song “Think”, a musical interlude that went on to be the highlight of the film for many. Franklin reprised the role of Mrs. Murphy, yet again, in the 1998 sequel BLUES BROTHERS 2000, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman.
Throughout her storied career, Franklin established herself as a flesh-and-blood touchstone of pop culture. Her music continues to influence younger generations to this very day, as I suspect that it will for decades to come. We here at JoBlo wish Aretha safe passage into the beyond, and would like to extend our most sincere condolences to her family, friends and fans. The world has lost a bonafide legend today, though her memory, talent, and inspiring energy will no doubt live on forever.
Safe travels, Aretha Franklin.