Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

'Queen of Soul' Aretha Franklin, 76, dies at home in Detroit

People pray at a morning service for singer Aretha Franklin at the New Bethel Baptist Church People pray at a morning service for singer Aretha Franklin at the New Bethel Baptist Church
Lora Ball | 16 August, 2018, 19:13

"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76. A gifted singer and pianist, Franklin toured with her father's travelling revival show and later visited NY, where she signed with Columbia Records.

Franklin had been "gravely ill" and passed away surrounded by family and friends in Detroit, as tributes poured in for the legendary Queen of Soul.

Last year, the icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at "some select things".

In 1987, Franklin became the first women to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family", the statement added.

"This show is dedicated to Aretha Franklin", she said. Without her there could have been no Donna Summer, Chaka Khan or Whitney Houston (whose mother, Cissy, was one of the Sweet Inspirations, who often sang backup for Franklin); nor would there be a Janelle Monae, a Rihanna or a Beyoncé.

The music legend began her career as a child, singing gospel at a church in her home state of MI. "The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds".

The following year, she was diagnosed with cancer, but later made a triumphant return to the stage in 2013, following surgery. She belongs not just in the pantheon of great soul singers, but in the realm of great artists period: John Coltrane, Elvis, the Beatles, Billie Holiday-with them, she helped give shape to the second half of the 20th century.

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Memphis-born and Detroit-raised, Franklin grew up belting gospel in church, where her father was a renowned Baptist minister and her mentor was Mahalia Jackson.

She truly became "Aretha Franklin" after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966, releasing a succession of albums and singles of unparalleled power and emotional depth.

Franklin was known for her powerful voice and for many hits, including Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Chain of Fools and Think.

One of her more notable inauguration performances, however, came in 2009 when she performed "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama. Around that time she announced shed be phasing out live performances over the next year. Concerts scheduled so far in 2018, including one headlining the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, had already been canceled on doctors orders.

Franklin's pop success continued into the '70s, and she also released the hugely successful gospel album "Amazing Grace" in 1972.

In 1970, after their marriage broke down, Jet magazine reported that White was investigated for shooting Sam Cooke's brother, who attempted to protect Franklin when her husband turned up at her house.

"Her music is literally the soundtrack of my life".

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