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Aretha Franklin ‘Queen of Soul’ passed away Thursday at her home in Detroit surrounded by family and friends. She was 76.
The extremely private star’s “official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Phillip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit,” the family statement said.
With a lustrous career that spanned decades—Franklin began recording at the age of 14, singing gospel. It was in her roots. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a prominent minister and a nationally known gospel singer. Her life thereafter was filled with many musical highs including the early years touring with Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke along with the success of having 10 Top Ten hits between 1967-1968. Songs like “Respect” and “Natural Woman” would earn her the title “Queen of Soul,” signifying there was no one like her whose sound was a mixture of pure gospel and soul.
Franklin’s career continued well into the 70’s with songs like “Spanish Harlem” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Though some called it a comeback (Franklin said she never left) she enjoyed success with her 1985 album— “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”, which spawned the hit “Freeway of Love.” Her collaboration with the late British star, George Michael on the smash duet, “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me),” garnered her a No. 1 spot on the charts.
The mother of four was twice married which included her union with actor Glynn Turman, and had a longstanding relationship with Willie Wilkerson that resulted in two failed engagements over the course of their time together stretching back to 1988. Unlike her relationships which were often public, Franklin remained fiercely closed mouth when it came to her health. There was always speculation over the years she had cancer, but she never disclosed it with anyone when asked. Perhaps, she wanted people to focus on the legacy she provided in her music. After all, it included 18 Grammy awards and the honor of best female R&B performance for eight straight years.
Aretha Franklin left the world with a wealth of songs to bless the old and new. Though we’re sad she’s no longer with us, we’re believing she’s riding on the ‘Freeway of Love’ singing soulfully above.
Well done, Queen of Soul!
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