Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has died

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" has died at the age of 76-years-old from pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit. The statement said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.

On Lucy Street near Soulsville, USA in South Memphis, music fans and the curious look, take pictures and leave flowers the the humble and now delapidated house.

The home gave birth to music royalty, Aretha Franklin, the 'Queen of Soul.'

In a 1996 exclusive interview with WREG, Franklin told me what is was like to return to her childhood home in Memphis where her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, and her mother raised her.

"It was wonderful to be back in the neighborhood and go through the home where I was pron to see what my parents provided for us, what mom cooked for us and when mom and dad came home after a day's sermon," Franklin said.

She was born in Memphis in 1942 and grew up in Detroit.

Her prolific career would span six decades and include hit songs like "Respect," "A Natural Woman" and "I Say A Little Prayer For You."

Iconic singer and producer David Porter, who's also the founder of Made in Memphis Entertainment Studios, says there will only be one Aretha.

"Aretha didn't immulate anyone. She didn't pattern herself after anyone. She used her individuality to leave a mark in music that will never be duplicated. There's no comparison to the greatest of all time, Aretha Franklin," Porter said.

Franklin began singing in the church choir at an early age.

Her early music blended gospel, and jazz and made the transition into pop and soul.

James Alexander, founder of the R & B and funk group The Bark Kays, says Franklin never lost her Memphis soul. Her career took off with a song originally written and recorded by Stax Records great, Otis Redding.

That song was called "Respect."

"I played 'Respect' every night. Otis Redding wrote the song, but Aretha came along and, like, took the song away from him. She took ownership and made the song her own and she spelled it out," Alexander said.

Franklin would go on to win 18 Grammy awards and perform at three presidential inaugurations, including Barack Obama's.

She was also the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Boo Mitchell is co-owner of Royal Studios where he works with mom Loraine and sister Yvonne Mitchell.

They say Memphis was always felt and heard in Franklin's music.

"Her music just oozed Memphis. She was born right here in South Memphis. Three streets from the studio, and every hit she has there was a Memphis musician or influence," Boo Mitchell said. "There were so many barriers when coming up - not just gender, but racial barriers. But Aretha was such a powerful spirit and figured, she commanded respect."

August 16 is a day music fans will forever remember.

Fans will remember the passing of the Queen of Soul on the same day they remember the death of another music icon, Elvis Presley.

"It show they are up there singing together now. You know what I'm saying? They can celebrate two legends at one time. Elvis and Aretha, and that's a show," Boo said.

Franklin's family released a statement saying:

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.

The statement added:

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.

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

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