Aretha Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul”, has been remembered as an “inspiration”, “a rare treasure” and “one of the all time greats” in the tributes that have poured in after her death.
The cultural icon, whose 1967 signature song, “Respect”, became a rallying cry for the US civil rights movement, passed away in Detroit, Michigan on Thursday morning after battling advanced pancreatic cancer.
“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,” Franklin’s family said in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family,” he said.
Leading civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson, who visited Franklin earlier this week, tweeted: “A lot of music left the earth today. The Heavens rejoice. Rest in heavenly peace.”
Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, said on Twitter that beyond having a “tremendous singing voice”, Franklin was a “voice of the Civil Rights Movement” and an “instrument”.
Franklin was a friend of the late King, singing an emotional “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” at his funeral service in 1968.
Franklin also sang at the 2009 inauguration of former President Barack Obama, who described her as someone who “helped define the American experience”.
“America has no royalty,” Obama said in a statement after Franklin’s death. “But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring,” he added.
“For more than six decades … every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine … In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every share – our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”
|Franklin’s music career last for more than six decades [Val Wilmer/Redferns/Getty Images]
Artists share their memories
Dozens of artists – many of whom performed with Franklin over the years – took to Twitter to share their condolences and memories of the global icon.
Fellow American singer, Patti LaBelle, said the “world has experienced a tremendous loss”.
“Aretha was a rare treasure whose unmatched musical genius helped craft the soundtrack to the lives of so many,” LaBelle tweeted.
Barbra Streisand shared a photo of her and Franklin from 2012, tweeting: “It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.”
Following Franklin’s death, Diana Ross simply wrote on Twitter: “I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.”
Beatles star Paul McCartney gave thanks for Franklin and her work.
“She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever,” he tweeted.
Other stars, including Elton John, John Legend, and Bette Midler also took to Twitter to remember the Queen of Soul.
‘Thanks for getting me through the tough days’
Franklin’s fans flooded social media with tributes, many describing the effect her music had on their lives.
“Thank you Aretha Franklin for getting me through tough days,” Twitter user, Pablo, said.
Another user, Lady_C, also thanked Franklin “for being a blessing in my life and brightening the darkness that was there”.
In Detroit, some left balloons and flowers outside of New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin’s father was once a pastor. The church had held a vigil earlier this week when reports surfaced the singer was gravely ill.
“We’re asking you to touch the Queen of Soul,” New Bethel’s pastor said during a Tuesday vigil, according to the Detroit News.
|Many left balloons and flowers outside Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church [Tom Szypulski/Al Jazeera]
In New York City, fans turned the Franklin Street subway stop into a memorial for the icon.
Others shared their favourite songs.