Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," ''I Say a Little Prayer," and her signature song, "Respect," and who stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer. Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells the AP that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50am at her home in Detroit. Franklin, who'd battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had in 2017 announced her retirement from touring. A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, and a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion, and training worthy of a preacher's daughter.
She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half-century, including 20 that reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," to the wised-up "Chain of Fools," to her unstoppable call for "Respect." Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn't honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In a 2004 interview, Franklin was asked whether she sensed in the '60s that she was helping change popular music. "Somewhat, certainly with 'Respect,' that was a battle cry for freedom and many people of many ethnicities took pride in that word," she answered. "It was meaningful to all of us." (Read more Aretha Franklin stories.)