DETROIT (WJBK) - Her voice is unparalleled. Her music is legendary. She is The Queen.
Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, has died Thursday at the age of 76, according to her publicist. Earlier this week the news broke that she was seriously ill and was being surrounded by loved ones. She died at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.
A family statement says said "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.
The family added: "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 statement continued:
"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 have not yet been announced.
Although she never disclosed her illness, Aretha battled health problems over the years. FOX 2 Detroit News Anchor Huel Perkins is a close friend, and says Aretha was particularly challenged health wise over the last year but that her spirits were always high. He said the two have talked about her health over the years and said she is "a remarkable woman."
Aretha's health problems began in 2010. Her health appeared to have improved for a period of time, though, and in 2015 she sang for the pope, gave an acclaimed performance at the Kennedy Center Honors and one year after that performed the national anthem at the annual Lions Thanksgiving Day game.
Fans and celebrities across the world are sharing tributes. Monday night, to a crowd of more than 40,000 people in Detroit, Beyonce fittingly dedicated her concert with husband Jay Z to the icon.
Aretha was born in Memphis, Tenn. on March 25, 1942. Her family made Detroit their home just a few short years later and she grew up singing in her dad's house of worship, New Bethel Baptist Church on Linwood.
As a teenager, Aretha's father helped her launch a gospel career. But at age eighteen -- Aretha had a new vision. She signed on with Columbia Records and, in a few years, she would have her first Top Forty hit on American Radio. Aretha was a rising star in the R&B world but to reach the next level of stardom, she knew she had to shake things up. In 1967 she signed with Atlantic Records -- and the rest would become music history.
"Respect" shot up to the top of the charts and not only became Aretha's signature song, it also became an anthem for civil rights and feminism. Her chart dominance with singles like "Natural Woman," "Baby I Love You," "Chain of Fools" and "I Say a Little Prayer" earned her the title Queen of Soul.
Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn't honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She received our nation's greatest honor in 2005 when she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She would return to the nation's capitol in 2009 with a show-stopping rendition of "My Country Tis of Thee" for the inauguration of president Obama.
Her music quickly climbed the iTunes' charts following her death on Thursday. Her "30 Greatest Hits" album hit the No. 1 spot, replacing Nicki Minaj's new album, while "Respect" reached No. 2 on the songs' charts. More songs from Franklin, including "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Think," "Chain of Fools" and "I Say A Little Prayer," were in the Top 40.
With a career that spanned more than six decades, multiple number one hits and recipient of music's highest awards, Aretha Franklin is and always will be our Queen of Soul.