Aretha Franklin, Original Diva, Has Died

Aretha Franklin, Original Diva, Has Died

She lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Thursday.

She lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Thursday.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed queen of soul, has died after her long battle with pancreatic cancer. The news of Franklin’s passing broke this morning, following reports on Monday that the 76-year-old had entered hospice care at her home in Detroit.

Born in Detroit in 1942, Franklin became a star in her mid-20s after signing to Atlantic Records in 1967. That year, she achieved her first number one hit with the Otis Redding cover, “Respect.” That feminist clarion call and countless subsequent hits like “Chain of Fools” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” have endured as soul standards. Until 2017, Franklin was the record-holder for the female artist with the most entries on the Billboard 200 chart (a title now held by Nicki Minaj).

Over the course of her decades-long career that spanned soul, gospel and rock, Franklin became a larger-than-life national treasure with an uncanny capacity to break barriers for women and people of color. She became the first woman inducted to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 2009 brought a nation to its feet with her rendition of “My Country, Tis of Thee” at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration.

Aretha Franklin (courtesy of Pinterest)

While she’ll be forever known as the queen of soul, Franklin collaborated with artists from across the spectrum, from The Eurythmics on 1985’s "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves” to George Michael on 1986’s "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).

Franklin’s impact on pop-culture is indelible; without Franklin, the category of “diva” wouldn’t exist. But for being the Ur-diva, Franklin was also preternaturally humble; in 2003 on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where she was a frequent guest, Franklin told Winfrey, “You have singers that are trained, and then you have natural singers. People that were born to sing. And hopefully I was one of those people.”

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