Soul music legend Aretha Franklin died at her home in Detroit on Thursday at the age of 76, her publicist told the Associated Press.
Her cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer, according to a statement from Franklin’s oncologist to the AP.
Franklin’s passing follows reports earlier this week that cited friends and family who said the “Queen of Soul” was “gravely ill” and put on hospice care in her home in Michigan.
Her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn, released a statement from Franklin’s family to the AP, which read: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
Rumors of Franklin’s declining health followed her for several years, and she denied reports in 2011 that said she had cancer. She canceled a series of tour dates in 2017 and 2018 for health reasons, and in April, her doctor ordered her to “stay off the road and rest completely.”
Franklin released her first album, “Songs of Faith,” in 1956, and her decades-spanning career earned 10 top 10 singles, including “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Think,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Chain of Fools,” and her iconic 1967 cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect.”
Her singing voice was a singular force that earned her the designation of the greatest singer of all time in a 2008 Rolling Stone list.
“You know a force from heaven. You know something that God made. And Aretha is a gift from God,” the Rolling Stone feature read. “When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.”
Franklin was was one of the best-selling artists in history with 75 million records sold worldwide in her career, according to one industry estimate.