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Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul: 1942 – 2018

Legendary singer Aretha Franklin passed away in her Detroit home today after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

The 18-time Grammy winner started her music career by singing in her father’s church in Detroit, where he was a minister. She later began singing secular music and had huge hits in the 1960s with “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “Think,” with the songs earning Franklin the title of Queen of Soul.

A lifelong Democrat and a huge supporter of the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements, Franklin’s impact on popular culture extends beyond the music charts. Franklin made history throughout her career and broke down glass ceilings, becoming the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She is also the most charted female musician in the history of Billboard.

Throughout her career, Franklin became friends with and performed for some of the biggest celebrities and world leaders. A close friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and Sam Cooke, who helped launch her career, Franklin performed for Queen Elizabeth, President Obama, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. She has been awarded several prestigious honorary degrees, including degrees from Harvard University, Berklee College of Music, Yale University, Brown University, and the University of Michigan in her home state.

A tribute concert for Franklin is already planned for November 14 in Madison Square Garden and a biopic, with Jennifer Hudson in the lead role, is scheduled to begin filming in the near future.

An outpouring of love for Franklin has been flooding social media, with fans from around the world sharing their fondest memories of the singer and offering their condolences.