Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” has died at the age of 76. In 2017, Franklin kept her health issues a secret while retiring from touring, and after numerous reports in the last few days citing her status as “gravely ill,” the Motown artist reportedly passed away from pancreatic cancer.
The singer reportedly died on Thursday morning at her home in Detroit, where she was on hospice care, according to a note from her publicist given to the Associated Press. According to Franklin’s publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute.”
“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,” Franklin’s family said in a statement also released to the Associated Press. “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,” the statement continued.
Franklin’s “Queen of Soul” title was earned from her 18 Grammy Awards, 112 Billboard singles, and 75 million worldwide records which include the artist’s popular singles “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “I Say A Little Prayer,” making her one of the best-selling musical artists of all time.
In Franklin’s final days, friends and fans of the legendary soul singer expressed their concern for her health. “There is a bright FLAME about to go out,” Diana Ross tweeted, just one day before the singer’s passing. Franklin’s family addressed the support from the singer’s fan base and famous friends in their statement, writing, “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.”