Aretha Franklin, the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think” and her signature song, “Respect,” died Thursday at age 76, said her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn.
The cause was advanced pancreatic cancer.
Born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin was an 18-time Grammy Award winner and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor. She was renowned for her powerful, distinctive gospel-honed vocal style that influenced singers across generations.
Rolling Stone gave her the top spot on its "Greatest Singers of All Time" list, and in 1987 Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Franklin's countless classics include: "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Chain Of Fools," "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)"; her own compositions: Think," "Daydreaming" and "Call Me"; her definitive versions of "Respect" and "I Say A Little Prayer"; and global hits like "Freeway Of Love," "Jump To It," "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," her worldwide chart-topping duet with George Michael, and “A Rose Is Still A Rose."
Largely self-taught, Franklin was regarded as a child prodigy. A gifted pianist with a booming voice, Franklin got her start singing in front of her father's congregation.
In 2008 she received her 18th Grammy Award for "Never Gonna Break My Faith" — a collaboration with Mary J. Blige — and was picked to sing at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.