Reports say the icon of music died due to an advanced pancreatic examination at his home in Detroit, surrounded by his family. Here is a look at her iconic career that spans generations in American music and history.
Aretha Franklin, whose passionate and compelling voice made her a titan of American music, died of pancreatic cancer on Thursday, her niece, Sabrina Owens confirmed, was 76.
She died at 9:50 ET ET surrounded from family to his home in Detroit.
A family statement issued by his press officer Gwendolyn Quinn said that "the official cause of Franklin's death due to the advancing of pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin on the cologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of the Karmanos Cancer Institute "in Detroit.
The family added: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we can not find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts, we have lost the matriarch and rock of our family."  Franklin was one of the twentieth century's transcendent cultural figures, growing up in an eclectic gospel, R & B, classical and jazz musical diet, blossomed from his father's Detroit church to become the most distinguished female black artist of all times, crossing borders and placing nearly 100 hits on the Billboard R & B chart – 20 reaching number 1.
The Queen of Soul, while it was crowned in the '60s, leaves a sprawling heritage of classic songs that includes "Respect", "You make me feel like a natural woman", "Chain of Fools", "Baby I Love You", "Angel", "Think", "Rock Steady," "Bridge Over Troubled Water "and" Freeway of Love ", along with a bestseller gospel catalog.
His death follows several years of carefully hidden medical problems, which led to regular cancellations of performances and prolonged absences from public opinion  In March, Franklin canceled two concerts scheduled in New Jersey. According to a statement by his management team, he was following the doctors' orders to stay out of the way and rest completely for two months, and that he was "extremely disappointed that he could not perform as he expected and hoped."
Franklin's most recent performance was November 2, 2017, for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York. The previous June, visibly weak but still evoking the magic of his voice, Franklin played his last show in Detroit, a concert full of emotions for an open-air festival downtown.
He ended the performance with an appeal then cryptic to her, the crowd of the hometown: "Please hold me in your prayers."
"He could get a US president on the phone with two calls," said Brian Pastoria, who co-engineered some of Franklin's studio work.
In fact, it was the little stuff that seemed to annoy Franklin more. He has struggled with personal finances, and has often been forced to travel to small-scale courts by family operations around the Detroit Metro – limousine services, catering, contractors. His house was often cluttered and untidy, and while creative genius experts could tell that he was coming with the territory, it was quite frustrating the neighbors and leaving the visitors perplexed about why he had so little help around her.
For years Franklin spoke of plans to deal with his flying phobia, but never followed. He continued to take root in the last 35 years of his life, earning millions of dollars in tour revenue.
Franklin was scrupulously private; his private life was protected by a small group of family and friends. When writer Mark Bego started writing the first licensed biography of Aretha Franklin, "The Queen of Soul" in 1989, he was struck by the series of unknowns that still surrounded her – basic details of her two marriages and divorces, her education, even on her musical inspirations.
"I felt like I had just met one of the great unresolved mysteries of the entertainment world," he wrote.
Franklin cautiously dragged on some of these topics with his 1999 autobiography, "Aretha: From These Roots." But it remained elusive enough that his co-author, David Ritz, was forced to write his biography uninhibited by Franklin 15 years later.
That book provoked the singer's wrath – the kind of eruption familiar to those in the world of Aretha. Franklin kept churning out support staff, hiring and firing lawyers, publicists and producers. He did arias with other singers and knew how to nurture resentment, including a beef with Dionne Warwick who became public only when Franklin alerted the press from nothing – five years later it happened.
But when it came to music, few were more disciplined than Franklin. He was serious about his voice and his concert conditions: big on honey and hot tea before a show and insistent in rooms without air conditioning, aware that he could wipe his throat.
Many who have worked closely with her have also glimpsed humanity in the heart of the superstar singer who came to church.
"He was (very) compassionate," said the late Darryl Houston in 2010. Houston was the pianist who accompanied Franklin for over two decades. "When I was dealing with the disease and the possible death of my father in Mississippi, it was very encouraging in his thoughts and actions." I recall that sometimes I received a call from a travel agent saying, "When Do you want to go see your father? Mrs. Franklin took care of the ticket. " "
Brian Pastoria was part of a study group that worked with Franklin in the years" 90 and & # 39; 000, including recording sessions at his home.
"Before the vocal sessions, it would be been in the kitchen to prepare the chili. a couple of hours, she said, "OK, it's time to eat!" "She recalled Pastoria." Although she was the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali of the voice, it was always her business phone call, not her lawyer. You would have heard, "Hello, honey, how are you!" It was nice, it was real, you never had the feeling of dealing with an important superstar. "
For all public clothes, the references of glory and diva – it was famous in Snickers advertising as a grumpy prima donna – Franklin was a homegirl in the heart.It was a food connoisseur of the south soul of the old school, proud of her skills with home-made dishes such as fried chicken and black-eyed peas ham.
"I think I can best classify myself when it comes to cooking," she told Free Press in 1996
That sort of organic reality has gone through his work.
"He paints an image with a song," said Houston. "Outside of vocal intelligence, you can hear what is going on. singing, you can say when someone sings only one song and when the song is part of their inner being … With Aretha, what leaves the heart reaches the heart. " Aretha Franklin attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation ” width=”540″ data-mycapture-src=”” data-mycapture-sm-src=””/>
Aretha Franklin attends the Gala 25th Anniversary of the Elton John AIDS Foundation Tuesday, November 7, 2017, in New York. (Photo: Andy Kropa / Invision / AP)
"It seems that he never, never forgot those roots of the church, and really believed that we need to look over the things of this world, on a more spiritual level level, "said Rocky Twyman social activist. "You felt like you wanted to bless humanity with its music."
Franklin made his last appearance in Detroit on June 10, 2017, underlining the Detroit Music Weekend festival for thousands of people gathered in the streets. Down the block two days earlier, tears flowed down his face as he was honored by the city with the presentation of Aretha Franklin Way.
For nearly two hours on the festival stage that weekend, he performed in a lively, exuberant set while clearly struggling with pain, at one point singing from a luxurious chair.
Franklin did so his way that night, giving up many of his biggest hits for a deeper dive into his catalog and an exciting 11-minute workout of "Precious Memories."
Perhaps the old slender power it was missing, but the passion was intact. For the last time in front of his hometown, there was Aretha Franklin, and there was that voice.
That voice – still captivating, but now comforting in its decades of familiarity. A sound that still fuses urban vitality with the warmth of the southern soul. Still joy, pain, ecstasy, liberation. Still strength and femininity. And yet it offers, as always, the promise of transcendence.
Contact Detroit Free Press writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or [email protected]
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