Aretha Franklin, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest singers of all time, has passed away at the age of 76.
The "Respect" songstress died at 9:50 AM on Thursday morning in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. She was surrounded by friends and family, according to her longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn.
The "official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit," the family statement said.
It was reported earlier this week that Aretha was "very ill" and had been "under the weather for several months" according to her sister-in-law Cendia Franklin. A release from Franklin's family shared these thoughts:
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.
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.
Aretha, otherwise known as the "Queen of Soul," earned quite the iconic career for herself over the past six decades. She won 18 Grammy Awards and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1987.
She's also been considered by many LGBT fans as the "original diva" of music. She sung at a gay wedding in the past and worked with another legendary singer, the late George Michael, on their number one single "I Knew You Were Waiting" back in the late 80's.
May she rest in peace.