Confirmation of her death came through her family and publicist on Thursday morning, who provided fans around the world with the following statement:
“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," it reads in the heartfelt 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. We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
News of Franklin’s death came in the days following speculation and reports stating that she was in very poor health, and was already seeing tributes pour in from industry colleagues like Jay-Z and Beyonce ahead of the sad news that was sure to follow. Franklin was scheduled to perform at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival earlier this year but was forced to cancel to due declining health. According to the report, Franklin’s final live performance would take place back in November 2017 at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation fundraiser.
Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee in March 1942, and would be raised around the culturally rich area of Detroit during the height of the Motown era before launching her own career in the mid-1960s. Her life as one of America's most beloved recording artists was filled 18 Grammy wins from the many timeless pop/soul hits shared throughout the decades, including "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Think." Perhaps Franklin’s most well-known performance of the latter track came back in 1980 when she starred as the musically gifted diner-owning wife of Matt “Guitar” Murphy in the comedic film, “The Blues Brothers.” Murphy also passed away earlier this year back on June 15.
Rest easy Ms. Franklin, you’ve forever earned our full “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) August 16, 2018
Lucky enough to have seen Aretha live exactly once, and this was it.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) August 16, 2018
Thank you for the music, we will be listening to you forever https://t.co/aMHIBFaTAs