Legendary singer Aretha Franklin has died at age 76.
The “Queen of Soul” behind classics such as Think and her signature song, Respect, died at her home in Detroit.
She had been suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, her representative Gwendolyn Quinn said.
Starting in March Franklin was forced to cancel a number of scheduled concerts on doctor’s orders.
Franklin has sold more than 75 million records worldwide and won a large number of awards, including 18 Grammys, and she was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
The star was born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, Tennessee on March 25 1942 to travelling Baptist preacher Clarence LaVaughn “CL” Franklin and mother Barbara, an accomplished singer and pianist.
Franklin’s family relocated to Detroit, Michigan while she was still an infant.
Her father led the city’s New Bethel Baptist Church, which became a centre for the civil rights movement.
At age 12 Franklin had the first of her four sons, Clarence, named after her father, and her second child Edward followed two years later.
Franklin’s father became famous for his emotionally charged sermons, becoming known as “the man with the million-dollar voice”.
Her love and knack for all things musical started early on in her life, when she learned how to play the piano by ear and singing in church.
Her father became her manager and she joined him on his tours of churches across the country.
She released her first studio album, Songs Of Faith, in 1956 when she was 14 years old.
At the age of 18 Franklin told her father she wanted to start singing and recording pop music.
She was signed by Columbia who released her first single on the label Today I Sing The Blues in 1960.
Her first single to land on America’s main industry chart came the following year with Won’t Be Long, but it was in the latter half of the decade that Franklin’s commercial success really soared.
Franklin opted to move to Atlantic Records from Columbia in 1966 and the following year she scored her first top 10 hit with I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You).
Her album of the same name also featured her signature number, a rendition of Otis Redding’s Respect, which topped the chart.
The song became widely considered as a feminist and civil rights anthem, and today still remains one of her most beloved songs.
The singer had a string of popular hits in the late 1960s including (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Chain Of Fools, Baby I Love You, and her version of I Say A Little Prayer by Dionne Warwick.
In June 1968, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine and earned the first of her 18 Grammy awards for Respect. She would be recognised at the Grammys with a lifetime achievement award in 1994.
Franklin’s success continued into the 1970s with hits such as Spanish Harlem and Rock Steady.
She recorded an album of gospel material called Amazing Grace which sold millions.
The decade ended with her receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the 1980s Franklin had left Atlantic, but she scored her first platinum-selling recorded in 1985 with her 33rd studio effort Who’s Zoomin Who?
During her career Franklin performed duets with the likes of her goddaughter Whitney Houston, Elton John, George Michael and Frank Sinatra.
Franklin performed publicly for numerous world leaders including the Queen and at former US President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
In recent years, Franklin – who battled weight problems her entire life – suffered from ill health and was forced to cancel a number of live shows.
In 2011 she said in an interview with the Associated Press that doctors told her that surgery she had for an unspecified tumour would “add 15 to 20 years” to her life.
Franklin cancelled two concerts last year on doctors’ orders, including a show in Newark, New Jersey that would have taken place on her 76th birthday.
On Monday August 13 it was reported that the star was “gravely ill” in a Detroit hospital.
On Thursday the Associated Press confirmed that Franklin had died at her home in Detroit.