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Music legend Aretha Franklin dies at age 76

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has died. She was 76.

Reports of Franklin's declining health began early Monday, with family members confirming that the singer was gravely ill and hospitalized in Detroit.

According to the Associated Press, Franklin was suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, and passed away in her home Thursday.

Although she was born in Memphis, Franklin was a Detroiter through and through. She moved to the city as a child, where she sang gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church, and eventually returned to Detroit in the 1980s.

When Franklin was 18, she signed with Columbia Records and began a career that would define music for generations. Some of her early hits included her version of "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" and "One Step Ahead."


Franklin then signed with Atlantic Records in 1967. Under that label, she put out some of her most successful and iconic songs, including "Respect," "I Say a Little Prayer," and "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." 

Franklin continued to find success throughout the 20th century, and even continued to score chart-toppers in the 21st century.

Some of Franklin's iconic public performances included Super Bowl XL in Detroit, the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, and the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Franklin became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1994, recieved the National Medal of Arts in 1999, and was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. She also received 18 Grammy Awards, the third-most of any female musician, and was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005.

Listen to past interviews with Aretha Franklin here.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan released a statement following news of Franklin's passing:

Aretha Franklin and her father, Rev. C. L. Franklin, have meant so much to our city for generations of Detroiters and we are all deeply saddened that Aretha has passed. Few people in the history of our city have been as universally loved or left as indelible a mark as Aretha. From the time her father gave Aretha her start in the New Bethel choir, it was clear to everyone how special she was. She was a performer without peers. Throughout her extraordinary life and career, she earned the love - and yes, the respect - of millions of people, not just for herself and for women everywhere, but for the city she loved so dearly and called home. I was honored to present Aretha with the key to our city last year and her last concert in Detroit. While she may have passed, Aretha Franklin will always have the key to our hearts.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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