Aretha Franklin, monikered the Queen of Soul and one of the most revered singers in the history of pop music, has died at the age of 76, according to a statement from her publicist. She died Thursday at her Detroit home while under hospice care. The official cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76.
One of the most prolific and successful female hitmakers of all time, Franklin emerged from a background in gospel singing to pop prominence in the 1960s. Following an initial contract with Columbia, she emerged in earnest with an unimpeachable run of albums and smash hit singles on Atlantic Records in the second half of the decade. Among her highest charting were her #1 singles “Respect” and “Chain of Fools,” as well as her rendition of the Carole-King-penned “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Franklin propelled her career into the 1970s with acclaimed albums like the moving gospel showcase Amazing Grace and the critically acclaimed and musically adventurous LPs Spirit in the Dark and Young, Gifted, and Black. In addition to her distinctive and richly powerful voice, her LPs highlighted her own songwriting—see her late ’60s hits “Think,” the stunning 1972 classics “Daydreaming” and “Rock Steady,” and more –and her stunningly adept, gospel-inflected piano accompaniment.
Following a commercial decline in the second half of the 1970s, Franklin emerged with a few successful albums and singles in the early 1980s on Arista Records, including the Grammy award-winning cover of Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’.” She remained active as a performer and a recording artists until the end of his life, with notable later achievements including charting a Top 40 single produced by Lauryn Hill, “A Rose Is Still a Rose,” in 1998, winning a Grammy for her 2003 single “Wonderful,” and performing at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Her cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” also rose to #47 on the charts in 2014.
Throughout her career, Franklin landed 112 singles on the Billboard charts, won 18 Grammy Awards, and released 42 albums. Franklin’s last album, A Brand New Me, came out last year. Shortly afterward, Franklin announced her retirement from live performance, with her final musical appearance coming in November 2017 at a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. A tribute concert in her honor at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, hosted by Clive Davis, was announced earlier this week.