Aretha Franklin Through the Years (PHOTOS)
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul and one of the most revered musical icons, died Thursday (August 16) at 76 in her Detroit home, her publicist told the Associated Press. The official cause of death was "due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type," according to a family statement provided to CNN.
The news arrives three days after reports surfaced that the singer, best known for enduring classics including like "Respect," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and "Chain of Fools," was in hospice care. She was reported to be in failing health for several years but kept her struggles private.
In February 2017, Franklin announced plans to retire from performing but continued to book shows, and canceled two concerts in March and April 2018, citing doctors' orders. Her final public performance was last November, when she sang at an Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York.
The first woman admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin leaves behind a half century-spanning legacy that stems well beyond her 18 Grammy awards and record-setting sales.
“Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll — the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope,” wrote President Barack Obama in response to her 2015 Kennedy Center Honors performance of “Natural Woman." "American history wells up when Aretha sings.”
Below, look through photos of Franklin from her gospel beginnings in the early ’50s through 2017.