Aretha Franklin has died in Detroit, aged 76. The singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and retired from music last year.
Known as the ‘Queen of Soul’ and one of the greatest singers of all time, her countless hits include Respect and Think. Her career spanned seven decades with over 20 US number ones and 18 Grammy awards.
Her voice was characterised by its power and searing emotion, and her music has soundtracked both the feminist and civil rights movements. Franklin has influenced numerous stars, from Beyonce and Kanye West to Florence Welch, Adele and Outkast.
“It’s important for people,” she told Vogue in 2015 of her anthemic Respect. “Not just me or the civil rights movement or women – it’s important to people. And I was asked what recording of mine I’d put in a time capsule, and it was Respect. Because people want respect – even small children, even babies. As people, we deserve respect from one another.”
Although she announced her retirement in February 2017, she continued to perform – most latterly at Elton John’s 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John Aids Foundation on 7 November 2017. She was also working on a new album, featuring collaborations with Elton John and Stevie Wonder. In January 2018, it was revealed that Jennifer Hudson would play the soul superstar in a new biopic – one of Franklin’s first choices for the role.
Born in Memphis to a gospel singer/pianist and a Baptist preacher, Franklin was inspired by gospel music throughout her career. In 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2009, she performed My Country, ‘Tis of Thee at Obama’s first inauguration.
“American history wells up when Aretha sings,”said of her performance of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. “Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock’n’roll – the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.”
Franklin is survived by her four sons, Clarence, Edward, Ted and Kecalf.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK