Soul legend Aretha Franklin dies aged 76

Franklin performing on stage in April 2017

It is no coincidence that two of Aretha Franklin's celebrated contemporaries who travelled to Detroit to see the singer in the last stages of her illness were Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has passed away aged 76 following a period of "gravely ill" health.

Previous year she announced plans to retire after releasing one more album.

The 18-time Grammy winner's most recent performance was in November 2017 at Elton John's AIDS Foundation's 25th anniversary gala in NY.

Franklin's publicist Gwendolyn Quinn has confirmed she died Thursday morning August 16 of pancreatic cancer.

The performance would mark the beginning of a career which would go on to stretch across seven decades and see her gain both domestic and global acclaim, including becoming the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Singer Alexander O'Neal told BBC News: "It meant a lot to me coming from the barriers that we had to overcome for race and everything else during that era, and time when she was such a success and became such a rock icon, a real icon". President George Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. "Music changes, and I'm gonna change right along with it", she said in a prophetic interview over 40 years earlier. She had been battling advanced pancreatic cancer, and her family had asked for prayers.

Just days ago, a source told PEOPLE that Franklin had taken a turn for the worse and that her death was "imminent".

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

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.

Some of her most well-known songs include "Respect" and "Natural Woman".

She performed at the inaugurations of two USA presidents, delivering a stirring rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the January 2009 ceremony for Barack Obama, the first African-American president, while wearing a widely remarked grey hat with a big bow.

In 2015, she sang "America, The Beautiful" during a send-off ceremony for then-Attorney General Eric Holder.

"She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever". She and Ted were married from 1961-69. She reportedly overcame "exhaustion and dehydration" to complete the show. Concerts scheduled so far in 2018, including one headlining the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, had already been canceled on doctors orders.

It may have been because of the unstable nature of life at home that she fell pregnant and had children twice before the age of 15.

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