(TIML NEWS) The queen is dead, but her soulful voice lives on.
Aretha Franklin, the incomparable singer regarded as the “queen of soul,” whose soaring voice left an indelible mark on American popular music, died Thursday at her home in Detroit, her publicist said. She was 76.
She had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
“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,” her family said in a statement. “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.”
An 20-time Grammy Award winner whose signature hits included the songs “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Loved You),” Franklin helped define soul music in the 1960s and inspired generations of singers who followed her.
“The voice of God, if you must know, is Aretha Franklin’s,” Marianne Faithfull once famously quipped.
Born in Memphis, Tenn. on March 25, 1942, Franklin was fourth of five children. Her father, Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, was a Baptist preacher with a booming voice, and her mother, Barbara Siggers, was a gospel singer. At the age of 4, Franklin’s family settled in Detroit, and shortly thereafter, Aretha began singing at her father’s church.
Though her parents divorced and her mother died when Aretha was just 10, by the mid-1950s Franklin had begun touring the church circuit as a singer and piano player with her father’s gospel review.
A recording artist in his own right, Aretha’s father helped her land her first contract with JVB Records, which released her first record, “Songs of Faith,” in 1956, when Franklin was 14.
When she was 18, Aretha felt the pull to record secular music, signed with Columbia records and moved to New York. Over the course of the next five years, Franklin would lay the foundation for her future success, landing singles on the R&B and pop charts, and further refining her singing technique.
But it wasn’t until Franklin signed with Atlantic records in 1966 that her calling as a soul singer was fully realized. Recording such seminal albums as “Aretha Arrives” (1967), “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You” (1967), and “Lady Soul” (1968), Franklin suddenly became a fixture near the top of the charts, and would go on to rack up an unsurpassed 20 number one R&B singles.