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Aretha Franklin 'Queen of Soul' dead at 76

Aretha Franklin, hailed as the Queen of Soul, died Thursday at her Detroit home, the Associated Press reports, surrounded by family and friends. She had been battling various undisclosed illnesses for years, and, in recent weeks, was receiving hospice care. She was 76 years old. 

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press through a family statement that Aretha died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. The statement said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Aretha's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.

As news of her declining health spread over the past few days, visitors including Stevie Wonder and the Rev. Jesse Jackson reportedly paid their respects at her bedside. BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z dedicated their Monday concert in the Motor City to Franklin, declaring the iconic singer. “We love you,” BeyoncĂ© said, adding a word of thanks for “the beautiful music.”

Over the course of her nearly seven-decade career, Franklin established herself as one of the most important artists in music history, winning 18 Grammy Awards, selling more than 75 million records worldwide, becoming the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and recording 112 charted singles on Billboard, thus setting the record for the most charted female artist in the trade magazine’s history.

Her most recent performance was in November last year at Sir Elton John's Aids Foundation's 25th anniversary gala in New York. 

In her heyday of the '60s and '70s, she dominated the music charts with hits including "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," "Baby, I Love You," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and "Respect," a cover of an Otis Redding tune that became a song of empowerment during the U.S. civil rights era.

May the Queen rest in peace. 

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