Remembered as the undisputed “Queen of Soul”, musical legend, Aretha Franklin, passed away Thursday morning after her long battle with pancreatic cancer. Franklin was 76 years young.

According to Franklin’s family statement, “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.”

Franklin’s death sparked a plethora of tributes from many high profile musicians, producers, actors, singers and many of her fans.

Aretha Franklin’s career spanned an unparalleled six decades that created all-time hits, which include “I Say a Little Prayer”, “Respect”, and “A Natural Woman”. While Franklin was born in Memphis, she grew up in Detroit, singing in her church choir. Her father was a Baptist preacher who encouraged her to create records from an array of genres, such as gospel, pop, and jazz. Many described her as a musical prodigy, mastering the piano
by ear at an early age.

Franklin played an important role in the 1960’s Civil Rights movement. Her father, Reverend Franklin, invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at the “Walk to Freedom” which drew over 120,000 people. Black celebrities, including Franklin, were constantly raising funds to support Civil Rights demonstrations.

Xernona Clayton, a close friend of the King family, was always involved with the logistical planning for the movement. Clayton shares, “We recognized when we had those brief moments of terror, we called in celebrities and always got a good response. Interestingly, some stars said they were sick even before we gave them the date. But Aretha always answered the call. Her response was always right on time. She was always available.”