Franklin, who won 18 Grammys and had some 25 gold records, died at her home in Detroit, according to one of her publicists.
She performed in November at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in NY to a private audience.
Doctors are said to have informed the 76 year old's family, "she could go at any time", and her sister-in-law Cendia Franklin told Radar Online the outlook is "not looking good". In 1968, she released two albums, Lady Soul and Aretha Now, which set new standards for raw and primal but accessible soul music.
The Queen of Soul last performed in November 2017 at an Elton John AIDS Foundation event in NY.
After recording and touring as a young gospel singer, Franklin's career took a secular turn in 1961 when she signed with Columbia Records.
She was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1994 and in 2005, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor.
Her bell-clear voice with its four octaves found its way into the styles of stars such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston - whose mother, Cissy Houston, was a backup singer for Franklin - to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Amy Winehouse.
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One of the most prolific and successful female hitmakers of all time, Franklin emerged from a background in gospel singing to pop prominence in the 1960s.
The legendary artist died today after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. Franklins update pleaded for respect not just from her man, but from the world it was she who worked in the unforgettable "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" breakdown and "sock it to me" refrain.
Franklin's prolific career spanned six decades and included hit songs like "Respect", "A Natural Woman" and "I Say a Little Prayer". She also performed at the inaugurations of Democratic party presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Franklin also remained rooted to Detroit philanthropically, and connected to her childhood congregation, performing an annual benefit concert at New Bethel despite-or perhaps precisely because of-her global fame.
In 2015, she sang "America, The Beautiful" during a send-off ceremony for then-Attorney General Eric Holder. I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. "Everything she's thinking or dealing with is all in the music, from "Chain of Fools" to "Respect" to her live performances".
"Her music is literally the soundtrack of my life".
She was originally scheduled to perform on her 76th birthday in March in Newark, New Jersey, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April.
She came dressed to slay in full diva regalia: gown, diamond jewelry, bedazzled heels and a floor-length fur coat.