Fans, music legends and US presidents have paid tribute to the “greatest soul artist of all time”, Aretha Franklin, who died aged 76 from cancer.

The woman known for hits such as Respect, I Say a Little Prayer and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, died on Thursday at her home in Detroit from pancreatic cancer after a long struggle with health problems.

The US Recording Academy, the body that presents the Grammy Awards, called the 18-time Grammy winner an “incomparable artist” and “one of the most profound voices in music.”

Her powerful voice was “a glimpse of the divine,” Barack and Michelle Obama said of Franklin, who sang at Obama’s first presidential inauguration in 2009.

Fans paid their respects by laying flowers at her Hollywood Walk of Fame star in Los Angeles and remembering her on social media, where fellow musicians also saluted her.


“What a life. What a legacy! So much love, respect and gratitude,” wrote Carole King, who co-wrote (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr also celebrated the singer’s legacy.

“She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever,” McCartney tweeted.

Elton John hailed her as the “greatest soul artist of all time.”

“The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the church,” he said in a statement.


Franklin’s family said the singer’s death was “one of the darkest moments in our lives” but that they were “deeply touched” by the tributes.

“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,” their statement read.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that Franklin was “a great woman” whose voice was “a wonderful gift from God.”

The soul legend’s music quickly climbed the iTunes’ charts following her death.

Her 30 Greatest Hits album hit the No. 1 spot, replacing Nicki Minaj’s new album, while Respect reached No. 2 on the songs’ charts.

More songs from Franklin, including (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Think, Chain of Fools and I Say A Little Prayer, were in the Top 40.


The singer was visited by US icons including Stevie Wonder and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson in the last days of her life.

Franklin was born in 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her career began at an early age in gospel, a tradition she never completely abandoned, even as she moved into jazz and secular music.

She recorded her first gospel album at age 14 and was soon signed by the Motown label when it was still a small start up.

Her real breakthrough came in 1967 when her version of Otis Redding’s “Respect” surged to the top of the R&B charts and stayed there for eight weeks.

Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in coming days.


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