The Queen of Soul is gone.
Singer Aretha Franklin passed away on Thursday. Reports had been circulating for days that the musical icon was gravely ill. She died at her own home, in hospice care, according to the Associated Press.
Music and performing were in Franklin's blood. Her father, Clarence LaVaughn "C.L." Franklin, was a noted minister and activist who was called "the man with the million-dollar voice." Her mother Barbara Franklin was a pianist and singer.
Aretha Franklin was born in 1942, and started touring at just 14 years old. She got her first record deal in 1956. But it wasn't until a decade later, when she signed with Atlantic Records, that she would have her commercial breakthrough. Her debut album for the label, 1967's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, contained hits like the title track, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," and the classic "Respect," a song she took from Otis Redding and completely reinvented.
Commercially, things cooled down a bit in the mid-to-late ’70s, but Franklin found herself back on top again the following decade, with hit songs like "Freeway of Love" and the George Michael duet "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me."
She kept up a busy performing schedule almost until the end, singing at Super Bowls, presidential inaugurations, the Kennedy Center, and venues around the world. Her final performance was in November, at a New York City event for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Franklin was also sampled by various hip-hop artists over the years, including Kanye West ("School Spirit"), Mos Def a.k.a. Yasiin Bey ("Ms. Fat Booty"), and many other acts.