The undisputed Queen of Soul, died Thursday at her Detroit home, the Associated Press reports, surrounded by family and friends. She had been battling various undisclosed illnesses for years, and, in recent weeks, was receiving hospice care. Franklin was 76.
As news of her declining health spread over the past few days, visitors including Stevie Wonder and the Rev. Jesse Jackson reportedly paid their respects at her bedside. Beyoncé and Jay-Z dedicated their Monday concert in the Motor City to Franklin. “We love you,” Beyoncé said, adding a word of thanks for “the beautiful music.”
Over the course of her nearly seven-decade career, Franklin established herself as one of the most important artists in music history, winning 18 Grammy Awards, selling more than 75 million records worldwide, becoming the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and recording 112 charted singles on Billboard, thus setting the record for the most charted female artist in the trade magazine.Franklin’s other accolades during her lifetime included three American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, one Golden Globe, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Grammy Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, being named 2008’s MusiCares Person of the Year, and honorary degrees from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and the Berklee College of Music. She performed at Martin Luther King’s memorial service and at the inaugurations of three presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.In 2010, Franklin’s commanding mezzo-soprano voice earned her the No. 1 spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Contributing to that issue, admirer Mary J. Blige wrote, “You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing. Aretha has everything — the power, the technique. She is honest with everything she says.”