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16/08/2018 15:01 BST | Updated 17/08/2018 10:49 BST

Aretha Franklin Dead: Soul Legend Dies, Aged 76

Her career spanned over 60 years.

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has died at the age of 76, her publicist has confirmed.

Gwendolyn Quinn said the singer died at her home in Detroit on Thursday morning where she was surrounded by friends and family. 

Advanced pancreatic cancer was cited as her cause of death. 

Her relatives said they had “lost the matriarch and rock” of their family in a statement issued via her publicist.

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Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76

“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,” they said.

“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.”

They have said funeral arrangements will be announced “in the coming days”. 

The legendary singer was reported to be “gravely ill” on Monday, with her family gathering at her bedside in her hometown.

On Tuesday, they thanked fans for their “love and support” as she remained ill at home. 

During this time, she was visited by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, and her ex-husband, actor Glynn Turman.

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Aretha began her career in the 1950s

Aretha’s career spanned over 60 years and made her an icon of American music. During this time, she earned 18 Grammys and became the first ever woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Born in 1942, Aretha grew up singing gospel at her local church in Detroit and released her first album, aged just 14, in 1956 with ‘Songs of Faith’.

However, it was not until a decade later until she had her first major hit when ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)’ became her first single to crack the Billboard top 10.

Songs like ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘Respect’ later went on to make her a giant of American soul and pop music.

She continued to have great success throughout the later years of her career, and last year saw her release her most recent record, ‘A Brand New Me’, which marked her 42nd studio album.

One of the defining moments of her career came when she was invited to perform at President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony in 2009, where she moved fans with her rendition of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’.

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Aretha performed at Obama's inauguaration in 2009

The following year, she was diagnosed with cancer, but later made a triumphant return to the stage in 2013, following surgery.

She was last seen performing in August 2017 at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation Party, where Showbiz 411 claimed she was “fighting exhaustion and dehydration”.

The same year, she was also forced to deny a death hoax, after fake news of her death spread online.

She issued a statement on the matter, in which she revealed she had lost a lot of weight due to her medication.

She told Us Weekly: “I’m doing well generally, all test have come back good.

“I’ve lost a lot of weight due to side effects of medicine, it affects your weight … Thanxxxx for your concern.”

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Aretha last performed in November 2017

Aretha leaves behind four children. She gave birth to the eldest, Clarence, when she was just 12-years-old.

She was married twice - first to Theodore White, who she wed in 1961 at the age of 19, but they split in 1969 after White was accused of domestic violence. She went on to marry Glynn Turman in 1978, who she stayed with for six years.

At one point she had plans to marry longtime companion Willie Wilkerson, announcing an engagement in 1988, but she eventually called it off in 2012.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated Aretha Franklin split from Theodore White in 1986. They actually divorced in 1969. 

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