Culture&Arts

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dies

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin dies

When Aretha Franklin sang, out poured the sun and the moon: Her voice was optimism shaded with occasional sorrow, joy tempered by the understanding that nothing in life can be flawless, but above all it was a sound that both absorbed and radiated light.

Franklin had more than 20 U.S. number one hits over a career that spans back to 1952.

- Tweets and statements of love and sympathies are pouring in after Aretha Franklin's death in Detroit Thursday.

Known simply by her first name, Franklin was a cultural icon whose career spanned six decades and traversed various genres of music, from gospel to R&B to pop to opera. It was a bitterly cold day, and Franklin later said she was upset with how the freezing weather affected her singing voice.

Franklin was born March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee but her family moved to Detroit a few years later.

Last year, Franklin announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at "some select things". "At that time, "Respect" became a civil rights anthem".

Credit PA
Credit PA

"If a song's about something I've experienced or that could've happened to me, it's good". But if it's alien to me, I couldn't lend anything to it. Dionne Warwick's I Say a Little Prayer became an altogether fresh track in the voice of Aretha.

She followed that up with hits like "Freeway of Love" and, with the Eurythmics, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves".

And pay her the respect that both the song and her life demanded. Largely self-taught, she was regarded as a child prodigy. She had two more sons and was married and divorced twice. In 2011, widespread reports claimed the diva was being treated for pancreatic cancer. "Music changes, and I'm gonna change right along with it", she said in a prophetic interview over 40 years earlier. In 2010, she underwent surgery for an undisclosed tumor and had several health scares in the ensuing years, but she never hung up the microphone. Her cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" also rose to #47 on the charts in 2014.

Her relatives said they had "lost the matriarch and rock" of their family in a statement issued via her publicist. In the '80s, she took on more of an elder-legend role, but she still had plenty of success. Franklin also sang at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Before performing, she and Obama fist-bumped on stage.

Franklin started touring as part of her father's gospel show as a teenager and got a musical education from gospel greats of the time - the Staple Singers, the Soul Stirrers, James Cleveland and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Her last live performance was November 7, 2017, for the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala.

While Diana Ross said she's "sitting in prayer" for Franklin's spirit.

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