Aretha Franklin Dead at 76: Celebrities Pay Tribute to the Queen of Soul
Celebrities are paying tribute to the Queen of Soul.
Aretha Franklin died Thursday morning of advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, her publicist confirmed to PEOPLE. She was 76. The legend had been in declining health and receiving palliative care at home in Detroit “surrounded by family members.”
PEOPLE reported on Monday that Franklin was in the midst of a health crisis, with a friend of the artist explaining that the singer has “been ill for a long time” and her loved ones have been warned her “death is imminent.”
Later in the day, Franklin’s nephew Tim told PEOPLE that his aunt was surrounded by her loved ones and resting at home. “She’s alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people,” Tim said. “Family is there with her. She’s home.”
Notes from Franklin’s celebrity admirers and collaborators have poured in since news of her failing health became public earlier this week.
“There is a bright FLAME about to go out, ONLY GOD KNOW WHEN. Say a prayer and let her go – deep breath,” Diana Ross tweeted earlier in the week, while Patti LaBelle added, “My thoughts, my heart and my prayers are with Aretha Franklin, the greatest singer of all time, and all of her loved ones right now.”
Lionel Richie praised Franklin in a statement to PEOPLE. “Her voice; her presence; her style. No one did it better. Truly the Queen of Soul. I will miss you!”
Berry Gordy, the legendary founder of Detroit’s Motown Records, also released a statement concerning her passing.
“A national treasure to everyone,” he said of Franklin, “But to me personally, Aretha Franklin was my dear, dear friend, my homegirl, and I loved her a lot. From seeing her as a baby singing and playing at the piano at her father’s home, to her giving a rousing performance at the White House, she has always been amazing. No matter how the music has changed over the years, she remained so relevant. Though never signed to Motown, Aretha was considered part of my family. We always shared fond memories of the Motor City, life, and just things.”
He continued, “Her passing is not only a tremendous personal loss for me, but for people all over the world who were touched by her incredible gift and remarkable spirit. Aretha Franklin will always be the undisputed Queen of Soul, and her legacy will live forever. My condolences go out to her sons, other family members, friends and fans. I will miss her.”
Fellow diva Cissy Houston shared her thoughts on the late soul titan. “Aretha was my dear friend who I will deeply miss,” she said in a statement. “I have known Aretha for over 50 years, both professionally as her back up singer and then as a friend. We have shared heartbreak, loss, as well as exaltation and great laughter and most importantly our mutual love of God. Although my heart is broken, my soul rejoices that I was able to watch God move through Aretha’s life. God bless you Re, I will always love you.”
Mariah Carey wrote, “Praying for the Queen of Soul.”
Ciara added, “Praying for Aretha Franklin and her family right now!”
In 2011, Franklin spoke to PEOPLE after a stay in the hospital.
“I feel fabulous, really,” she said at the time. “And I’m so thankful to all of the people who said a little prayer for me. People at the check out line in the market were telling me that they prayed for me. It’s amazing how beautiful people can be.”