On Thursday morning, Aretha Franklin passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. Several longtime friends of the Queen of Soul, musicians and other prominent figures paid tribute to Franklin’s legacy.
Throughout her nearly six-decade-long career, the musical icon won 18 Grammy awards, had 73 song chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Outside of music, Franklin was a vocal freedom fighter, who toured the U.S. with Martin Luther King Jr., offered to pay activist Angela Davis’ bail in 1970 and whose song “Respect,” became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement.
Take a look at the kind words and lyrics people shared in the wake of Franklin’s death.
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/bfASqKlLc5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 16, 2018
Recently, my friend Aretha sent me beautiful flowers with the message “Just Because.”
That’s the kind and generous spirit of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her spirit lives within me, and I will hold on to it forever.
— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) August 16, 2018
Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 #Aretha
— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 16, 2018
In Moonlight, there’s only one song that plays twice, in two different time periods — ETERNAL ♥️ pic.twitter.com/XX2ZHHssbt
— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) August 16, 2018
Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul pic.twitter.com/jW4Gpwfdts
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 16, 2018
Aretha Franklin was always very kind to me. In that old school auntie kind of way. She would always say how proud she was of our generation.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) August 16, 2018
Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 16, 2018
It was a double thrill for me to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on my 85th birthday and have the Queen of Soul (and heart) Aretha Franklin singing with me….she will be missed by the world. pic.twitter.com/74VM9IYejI
— Tony Bennett (@itstonybennett) August 16, 2018
If Aretha Franklin had used her miraculous voice only to sing, she would have been musical royalty. But Aretha was also a brave champion of racial and social justice. She earned our undying R.E.S.P.E.C.T. She is immortal. https://t.co/cn2FtdDDo3
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) August 16, 2018
— First Take (@FirstTake) August 16, 2018
Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.. A true legend and world icon…the greatest vocalist and entertainer of all time. Aretha paved the way for so many great artists, over 6 decades of music. Thank you for all of your contributions. My condolences and prayers are with the family. pic.twitter.com/akEgX7sv1j
— Steve Harvey (@IAmSteveHarvey) August 16, 2018
The moment I wake up, before I put on my make up, I say a little prayer for you
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) August 16, 2018
“Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew
I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired
Before the day I met you
Life was so unkind
But you’re the key to
My peace of mind.”
Her voice/swagger was peerless.
Thank you, #ArethaFranklin pic.twitter.com/5gp0OP10Jf
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 16, 2018
Queen… My Queen. pic.twitter.com/6olvvLPISd
— Anita Baker (@IAMANITABAKER) August 16, 2018
Rest in peace Aretha. ❤ pic.twitter.com/QT7HeY5SIf
— Patti LaBelle (@MsPattiPatti) August 16, 2018
I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) August 16, 2018
— Carole King (@Carole_King) August 16, 2018
— Smokey Robinson (@smokeyrobinson) August 16, 2018
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.