Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has passed away at the age of 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
“It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin,” her family said via a statement issued by her longtime representative. According to the statement, Franklin passed away peacefully in her home at 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, August 16, surrounded by family at her home in Detroit, Michigan.
Born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, the music legend began her career singing church solos at 10 years old. She released her first album, Songs of Faith, at 14 and signed with Columbia Records at 18. With a career spanning six decades, Franklin has traversed and crossed over to various genres from pop, gospel, soul and R&B. Her voice, an instrument of incandescent allure that possessed listeners, was equal parts tender and fiery when she needed it to be.
The first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin’s anthems “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” have been imprinted into the lexicon of popular culture. Franklin also used her platform as an active voice for the civil rights movement, going as far to offer to post bail for revered activist Angela Davis, who was incarcerated in connection with an escape attempt of prisoners from a California courtroom where several police officers were killed in 1970.
As the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards, Franklin’s career has served as the blueprint for most of today’s prominent vocalists, such as Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Jazmine Sullivan, Tamar Braxton, Mariah Carey, the late Whitney Houston and Jennifer Hudson, who is slated to play the singer in an upcoming biopic.
Franklin’s only film role was in The Blues Brothers (and its sequel), and she completely stole the show!
John Belushi told People magazine she “knocked everyone out.” He said, “She’s a fine, fine actress, and I’d work with her again anytime.”
Universal even campaigned for Franklin to get a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Oscars. Although she wasn’t nominated, Franklin said, “I was very pleased with my performance.”
Though she only appeared onscreen for five minutes, her role here is one of the most iconic, scene-stealing roles in history!