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Memphis-born Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has died

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Memphis-born Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has died

The Memphis-born Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has died. She was 76. Franklin died at home in Detroit at 9:50 a.m. She was surrounded by family and friends, according to publicist Gwendolyn Quinn. The “official cause of death” was advanced pancreatic cancer.”

Franklin’s chart-topping music spanned more than half a century and the songs she recorded became anthems for some of the social issues of our time.  Topping that list is “Respect,” written by Otis Redding, a call to arms in the 60s;  “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” a Carole King song of sexuality; and “Think,” written with her then-husband, Ted White, and which became a rallying cry for women fed up with uncouth, insensitive men. She held 88 Billboard chart hit songs and was at the top of the list for female artists. She held 18 Grammy Awards.

Aretha Franklin sings at the 2009 inauguration of President Obama

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded her a Grammy Legend Award in 1991, then the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. Franklin was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. She was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005. Franklin became the second woman inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

Franklin sang at the 2009 inauguration of President Brack Obama and performed at the White House in 2015.

Inducted to the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012, Franklin has been described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America” and a “symbol of black equality”.Aretha was named in her honor in 2014.

Born in Memphis, she was raised primarily in Detroit with her father,  C.L. Franklin, a minister and nationally known gospel singer. Franklin sang at her father’s church and began recording gospel music at age 14.
She toured the gospel circuit with her father, entering the circles of Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke.

She turned her voice to songs like “Respect” which were adopted by African-Americans and feminists as anthems for social change. After Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Franklin sang at his funeral. Her mother had died when she was a child, and her father was shot in his home by burglars in 1979 and lived for five years in a semi-coma before dying. She was also the godmother of Whitney Houston, who died in 2012. These losses fueled her music.

Her final album, “A Brand New Me,” paired Franklin’s original recordings of some of her greatest hits with modern musical arrangements from London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thanks for the memories and the music. Rest in peace, Aretha Franklin.

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