We all know her voice, and we all know her most famous songs. Now the singer of “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” has passed away at the age of 76, according to her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn.
The Associated Press reports the cause of death was “advanced pancreatic cancer.” Earlier this week, it was reported that Franklin had been moved to hospice care.
The “Queen of Soul,” as she was often called, grew up singing gospel music following her mother’s death. She taught herself how to play the piano, despite not knowing how to read sheet music. She released her first album, Songs of Faith, at the age of 14.
As a teenager, she traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and would eventually sing at his funeral. When she turned 18, she decided she wanted to sing secular pop music, and signed with Columbia Records, and her career took off.
Her first secular album, Aretha: With The Ray Bryant Combo, was released in 1961. “Won’t Be Long,” was featured on the Billboard top 100 songs at number 7. Six years later, Franklin would move to Atlantic Records and release her signature song, “Respect,” in 1967.
In total, Franklin released 112 singles that appeared on Billboard, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987.
She’s sung “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, and sang at the inauguration of three presidents. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005.
Franklin had four children and was married twice. She passed away at her home Thursday morning.
She will be truly missed, as there will never be another Aretha Franklin.