Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer on Thursday in her home in Detroit, according to her publicist. She was 76 years old.
The Queen of Soul's publicist confirmed the news to the Associated Press through a family statement on Thursday, stating that she died of advanced pancreatic cancer.
"Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute," said Gwendolyn Quinn, Franklin's publicist.
"In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family," the family added.
"We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time," the family's statement continued.
Funeral arrangements will reportedly be made later in the coming days.
Earlier in the week it was widely reported that Franklin was "gravely ill." Detroit station WDIV-TV reported that she asked for prayers.
In 2017, Franklin announced that she planned to retire. A few months later, she canceled a number of concerts. This year, she was forced to cancel more scheduled shows per her doctor's orders.
Born March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin and her family moved to Detroit when she was 4 years old, where in New Bethel Baptist Church, her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin became the most prominent black Baptist preacher in America. Franklin began singing gospel music and church and became a star on gospel caravan tours with her father, who became her manager when she was 14.
Her first album, Songs of Faith, was released in 1956 and scored two regional hits and spurred a tour with The Soul Stirrers, whose star was Sam Cooke.
In the late 1960s, Franklin saw success with "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" and "Respect," an Otis Redding cover that quickly took on its own life as a No. 1 hit. "Respect" became a soundtrack for both the civil rights and female-empowerment movements.1comments
"I was stunned when it went to number one," Franklin told Elle Magazine in April 2016. "And it stayed number one for a couple weeks. It was the right song at the right time."
The song marked the first of Franklin's 18 Grammy Awards. It was just the beginning of her success, as it was followed by hits like "Chain of Fools," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Spanish Harlem," "Think" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."