Here are 12 ways the late Aretha Franklin inspired a generation of strong women

The Queen of Soul has died aged 76

Words by Megan Hills and Jenny Proudfoot

Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin has sadly passed away today in Detroit at 76 years old. Her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn revealed that after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Aretha sadly passed away earlier this morning surrounded by family and friends. The singer was said to have been ‘sick for a long time’ and had been under the watch of hospice workers at her home in Detroit.

According to CNN, her family released a statement which read, ‘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. 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.’

They continued, ‘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.’

A source told Entertainment Tonight previously that doctors were ‘managing the process’ and continued, ‘She has been having lucid moments and she is at peace with her journey. She is where she is supposed to be, at home and surrounded by only love.’

Franklin, who is renowned for hits like Respect and Think, was widely regarded as the Queen of Soul with an unforgettable voice. A prominent Civil Rights activist and feminist icon, her songs were quickly adopted by movements as anthems of social change and she eventually sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King. Jr. Over the past several decades, her songs have topped chart after chart and last performed at a charity gala in support of the Elton John Aids Foundation. After that, she announced that she would be retiring to spend time with her family.

The singer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010 and prior to her death, an insider revealed to Entertainment Tonight that she ‘has been sick for a long time but didn’t want to share her pain with the world’. A spokesperson for Franklin also revealed that she prior to her passing, she had been visited by her nephew as well as longtime collaborator and friend Stevie Wonder who she was set to release an album with.

The singer enjoyed major success in her lifetime and came from a musical family, as her father Clarence Franklin, a Baptist preacher, was a gospel singer and pianist. While she had some early difficulties with her initial record label Columbia, she catapulted to fame in the late 1960s and was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005 for ‘capturing the hearts of millions of Americans’. Bush wasn’t the last president that she would impress however, as she would later go onto perform at President Obama’s inauguration and even made him cry during a performance of (You
Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center.

A source told Entertainment Tonight, ‘She’s loved her life and in the last year talked so much about her incredible memories. She has earned the title as the Queen of Soul and that is how she wants to be remembered.’

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Aretha was the embodiment of 60s female empowerment. A mother at 12 and Queen of Soul by the time she was 24, she belted out powerful inspirational lyrics about respect, while proudly telling it how it is.

Here are 12 of our favourite Aretha Franklin quotes…

1. ‘Falling out of love is like losing weight. It’s a lot easier putting it on than taking it off.’

2. ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Take care, TCB.’

3. I sing to the realists; people who accept it like it is.’

4. ‘Trying to grow up is hurting, you know you make mistakes. You try to learn from them, and when you don’t, it hurts even more.’

5. ‘Don’t say Aretha is making a comeback, because I’ve never been away!’

6. ‘We say, sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Standin’ on their own two feet and ringin’ on their own bells. We say, sisters are doin’ it for themselves.’

7. ‘I’m a big woman – I need big hair.’

8. ‘Now, occasionally I will still have that quarter pounder because I love fast food, but you have to keep it to a minimum.’

9. ’52 years of recording for other people. I thought at this point, it’s time for you to record for yourself. So that way there wouldn’t be so many spoons in the soup. There would just be one Aretha spoon in the soup.’

10. ‘Who hasn’t had a weight issue? If not the body, certainly the big head!’

11. ‘I’m a red-blooded girl… in love with love.’

12. ‘The man who gets me, is getting one hell of a woman.’

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