R&B Legend and “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin Has Passed Away at Age 76
After being placed in hospice care earlier this week, music legend Aretha Franklin has passed away at her home at age 76. Her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn said the cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer. She had been battling the disease for around a decade which is far longer than the life expectancy of a person diagnosed with it. With a career spanning over 6 decades with hits such as Respect and (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman it’s hard to imagine a world without Aretha. She’s been around during the beginning and ending of many careers and has continued to maintain as well as be respected by both her peers and contemporaries.
Only after 18 Grammys and being made the first woman inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did Aretha decide to retire from touring and that wasn’t until last year. Her career longevity has long been celebrated as she was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Grammy Association almost 25 years ago. The co-author of her 1999 autobiography Aretha: From These Roots told the LA Times “Christina Aguilera, Pink… they all want to shout their heads off. She was the first to do that.”
“Aretha shattered the atmosphere, the esthetic atmosphere,” author and critic Peter Guralnick said in a 1987 interview. “She set a new standard which, in some way, no one else could achieve. … You had a number of gospel singers who were filled with the spirit. She translated that spirit into the secular field. … She translated that feel and that fire.”
And that career defining song of hers, Respect is one that when you hear it no matter her age when performed, you have no choice but to respect her. “So many people identified with and related to ‘Respect,’” Franklin wrote in her autobiography. “It was the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher. Everyone wanted respect. It was also one of the battle cries of the civil rights movement.” It is the respect placed on her name that has had her perform at the funeral for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and inaugural celebrations of Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama.
“76 is too young. Rest in Peace,” writes Real Housewives of Potomac star Candiace Dillard on Twitter about her death. It truly is but Aretha wrote us the blueprint and it’s up to the rest of us to make sure her legacy continues on.
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