Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, dies at 76

Family said she was 'gravely ill' Monday

(Harry How/Getty Images)

DETROIT – Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," "I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from advance pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit.

The statement said "Franklin's 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.

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The family added: "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."

Franklin's family announced that she was "gravely ill" on Monday. Since then, many celebrities have paid her homage and visited her while she was in in hospice care.

Franklin, 76, was born in Memphis, Tenn. in 1942, the daughter of the famous pastor and civil rights activist C. L. Franklin. When Aretha was just 2 years old, the family left Memphis for New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, and a Motor City legend was ready to be born.

In an interview last year, Franklin said she had plans to "retire" after the release of her new album.