Aretha Franklin, whose gospel-rooted singing yet expansive delivery earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” has passed on at age 76.
The singer had been reported to be in failing health for years and appeared frail in recent photos, but she kept her struggles private.
The “official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit,” the family statement said.
It wasn’t just her great voice that serenaded us all though but she made some incredible history.
Here are three ways Detroit’s diva made history.
1.She performed for three presidents’ inaugurations
The queen of soul performed at the inauguration of three US presidents- beginning with with a medley of Duke Ellington hits for Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1977.
The next Democrat to take office,
Bill Clinton’s inaugural ceremony in 1993 was also graced by her stylings at a pre-inauguration festival two days before Bill’s swearing in
Barack Obama was the lucky third in 2009, and the sizeable hat she wore to his inauguration made almost as many column inches as her performance.
2. She was the first woman in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Aretha racked up 20 Top 10 albums, a lot of top selling singles and 18 Grammy awards during a fifty year recording career. Maybe it it not really a surprise she was also the first woman to enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987 due to her long standing career.
The Hall of Fame has often been criticised for failing to honour female performers (almost 90% of its inductees are men), the fact she was first underscores the fact that Aretha is impossible to ignore.
3. Her voice was declared a ‘natural resource’ in Michigan
In 1985, the Michigan state’s department of natural resources declared Aretha’s voice as a natural resource. Well, that isn’t the only way the state found to immortalise her talent.
In her native Detroit, the city council also named a street Aretha Franklin Way after her in 2017. The diva, then 75, thanked the city for “this resplendent honour” and vowed;“Every time I drive or walk down it, I’m going to dance down it!”
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