Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul', dies aged 76

Aretha Franklin is shown here performing at the Elton John AIDS Foundation event in New York in November 2017- her last known public performance

Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul', dies aged 76

Franklin's grandmother, Rachel, and gospel legend Mahalia Jackson helped raise Franklin and her siblings, and her father began managing her gospel career when she turned 14.

It had been reported earlier this week that the soul singer had was "gravely ill". She was 76 years old. She signed on with Columbia Records and, in a few years, she would have her first Top Forty hit on American Radio. In 2015, her performance of "A Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors brought President Barack Obama to tears.

At one of Franklin's last public performances, in June 2017, she closed out a free concert in her hometown of Detroit with the message: "God bless you, God keep you, keep me in your prayers".

The singer's career took off when she recorded her 1967 hit "Respect", which won two Grammy Awards. "This is it." Franklin said she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren. In 1956, she released her first album Songs of Faith, recorded at her father's church, New Bethel Baptist Church. Five of her songs are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

"Among her countless hits were the soul classics, "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", and "Think".

Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis to Rev. Clarence La Vaughn and Barbara Franklin, both of whom were also gospel singers.

The world she grew up in was one in which gospel singing took centre stage, and where the growing popularity of her father's driving sermons led to his mission being visited by various performers like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. Franklin died in Detroit, which is where she spent most of her childhood and adult life.

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By 18, she had signed with Columbia Records and moved to NY, where her talents quickly brought her fame - and a title. She was married to Ted White from 1961 to 1969, and later to Glynn Turman from 1978 to 1984.

A cover of Dionne Warwick's I Say A Little Prayer had similar success later the same year.

In 2010, she underwent surgery for an undisclosed reason after feeling pain in her side, which was rumored to be connected to pancreatic cancer-a claim she rebuffed.

Personally, the star struggled with her weight throughout most of her life and had been a longtime smoker.

After an eye-catching cameo in cult comedy The Blues Brothers, she scored a number of big hits in the 1980s including Who's Zooming Who? and the George Michael duet I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).

Perhaps she didn't need to be - it was all in her voice.

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