Aretha Franklin, the legendary Queen of Soul, died today at the age of 76. The representative for the veteran singer, Gwendolyn Quinn, confirmed the news that she passed away at her home in Detroit, Sky News reported. Franklin, who was suffering from pancreatic cancer, was recently reported to be "gravely ill".
In her last days, she was visited by singer-musician Stevie Wonder with Beyonce and Jay Z paying tributes to her during their On The Run II tour. The singer, who performed in a gospel choir in childhood and later graduated to master other genres such as pop and soul music, rose to worldwide prominence in the 1960s.
Franklin's first Hot 100 song, "Won't Be Long", debuted when she was barely 18 years old in 1961. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and has 18 Grammy awards to her credit.
The music icon had to cancel two performances in March when the doctors ordered her to rest. She last performed in November 2017 at the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York.
She released her 42nd and final album, 'A Brand New Me', last November.
Poor health affected Franklin's performing career in the last decade. She had to cancel shows in 2013 reportedly due to cancer, but she never spoke up clearly about the nature of her disease.
An influential cultural figure, often described as "the voice of black America", she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, and performed at Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
Hollywood celebrities such as veteran actor-singer Barbra Streisand, Elton John and director Ava DuVernay, among others took to social media to remember Franklin.
Streisand shared a photo from 2012 when she performed with Franklin at a tribute celebration for their friend, Marvin Hamlisch.
"It's difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world," she added.
John reminisced working with "The Queen" at his last year's AIDS benefit gala and called her death "a blow for everybody who loves real music".
He wrote on lengthy thread on Twitter, saying her music from the heart, the soul and the Church.
"Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated - she was one of my favourite pianists... She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday - and that meant so much to me," he recounted.
John added, "The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. #RIPArethaFranklin."
DuVernay quoted lyrics of Franklin's famous number, "Natural Woman" and wrote "Her voice/swagger was peerless. Thank you, #ArethaFranklin."
Composer Carole King, who wrote "Natural Woman" for the singer, tweeted "What a life. What a legacy! So much love, respect and gratitude. R.I.P."
Singer-Singwriter John Legend paid respects to the singer and called Franklin "the greatest vocalist" he has ever known.
Diana Ross bid a poetic adieu to the music icon.
She said, "There is a bright FLAME about to go out, ONLY GOD KNOW WHEN. Say a prayer and let her go - deep Breath.(sic)"
Media mogul Shonda Rhimes remembered Franklin in one word: "Aretha".
Lyricist-playwright Lin Manuel Miranda recalled how he once had the luck to see the singer perform live.
"Thank you for the music, we will be listening to you forever," he wrote.
Shreyl Crow wrote on the microblogging site, "Love and prayers for Aretha Franklin. The most soulful angelic voice that ever was. You are the queen and we love you."
Idina Menzel bid adieu to her idol and the greatest singer of all time.
"Every note you sang was pure and authentic and pierced our hearts with joy and pain and life," she added.