Aretha Franklin's Cause of Death Revealed to Be Advanced Pancreatic Cancer

Aretha Franklin

To hear it is to feel bathed in that light. A person close to Franklin said on Monday that the 76-year-old singer is ill. She credits her upbringing there, surrounded by gospel music, with teaching her the tools that would one day make her a soul music superstar. Her warmth-her light-was explosive.

Franklin was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1942. She sang and opera piece in front the A-list crowd. The daughter of a Baptist preacher, young Aretha got her start in the church choir. What we do know is that Franklin grew up singing in the church, and then on the gospel circuit, with an often grueling schedule. She sold more than 75 million records and tallied 112 Billboard-charting singles. But completion of that first Atlantic album was rocky.

She struggled to find fame in the early years, with record label Columbia unsure how to frame her impressively powerful voice.

But her career really took off after moving to Atlantic Records in 1966 and beginning a collaboration with legendary producer Jerry Wexler that would result in 14 albums together.

In February 2017, she said she would keep recording but retire from touring after a limited run of concerts marking a new album that year, "A Brand New Me", which featured her doing some of her biggest hits with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Respect was actually sung first by Otis Redding. It was a song that felt personal but also embraced a whole community; its power could reach anywhere.

Although she never disclosed her illness, Aretha battled health problems over the years.

People Magazine reported David Ritz spent two years working with the iconic singer on her 1999 memoir "From These Roots" before later penning his own biography on Franklin's life, 2015's "Respect".

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But nothing dimmed her status as music royalty.

Franklin rewrote the rules, and shattered the limits, of what could be done with a song.

While the disco era was not kind to Franklin's career, she bounced back in the 1980s, beginning with a rousing appearance in The Blues Brothers and continuing with hit singles like "Jump to It", "Freeway of Love" and "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" with George Michael.

Sir Elton John led the tributes on his Instagram account, writing: "The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music". The song was recorded in one take.

Franklin was named the greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone in 2010 and it's easy to see why.

Warwick's version of "Prayer" is wonderful, but Franklin's is a world apart, at once tender and bold. "I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing". It was not that Aretha was lacking in originality, in fact, the truth was she couldn't have made great covers if she had little imagination. Through gospel-influenced musical rearrangement, and her striking changes to melodic content, she effectively re-authored material written by others, asserting a sense of creative ownership through spirited and dynamic vocal performance. She's an expert at both expressing and hiding. We visited and prayed with @ArethaFranklin today. Thereafter, she mainly used a tour bus to travel. AJC wrote about how she used her voice to "deliver music for social justice".

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