Aretha Franklin's Family Issues Statement: 'We Have Felt Your Love'

Aretha Franklin's family is grateful for the outpouring of love it has received from fans all over the world this week and the day of the legendary singer's death.

In a statement to the Associated Press through Franklin's publicist, the family expressed their gratitude, saying they have been "deeply touched."

"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 love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."

"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 statement came the same time as Franklin's publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, confirmed Franklin died at the age of 76 after a battle with 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," Quinn told the Associated Press.

The outpouring of love and respect for the Queen of Soul came from fans on social media, as well as from other music industry hard hitters like Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Britney Spears, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson, John Legend and Carole King, who penned Franklin's hit "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."

Former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama said Franklin showed that Americans have "the chance to earn something more enduring." President Donald Trump called her a "great woman, with a wonderful gift from God," and Hillary Clinton thanked her for "opening our eyes, ears and hearts."

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In 2017, Franklin announced that she planned to retire from performing, save for big events like Elton John's AIDS Foundation gala in November, which was her final public performance. John posted a long tribute to Franklin on Thursday, saying, "The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church."

"Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance – a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn't sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof," he continued. "She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept."