Legendary singer Aretha Franklin dead at 76

To hear it is to feel bathed in that light. She was reportedly visited at home by Stevie Wonder and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Her warmth-her light-was explosive.

The legendary soul singer met with, performed for and was honored by numerous presidents during her long career. She would say, I want you to be strong, Don. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. It was not that Aretha was lacking in originality, in fact, the truth was she couldn't have made great covers if she had little imagination. Franklin and her chorus transformed the song into an emotional, uplifting ballad. But completion of that first Atlantic album was rocky.

One of the most prolific and successful female hitmakers of all time, Franklin emerged from a background in gospel singing to pop prominence in the 1960s. Wexler had no idea where she had gone.

April 1987 - "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)", a duet with George Michael, reaches No. 1 on the pop chart. She had another at 14 and suffered an abusive marriage at the age of 19. It's impossible to sum up a life like Aretha's but here are some vital facts to know.

Elton John posted a lengthy tribute to Franklin on Instagram, writing: "The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church".

Franklin inspired a generation of singers.

"This show is dedicated to Aretha Franklin", she said. "Thanks for the joy and inspiration you gave to the world", actor Tony Goldwyn said. Some called it a peculiar song choice (sample lyric: "But the tigers come at night / With their voices soft as thunder / As they tear your hopes apart / And they turn your dream to shame"), but who was listening to the lyrics, anyway? The song was recorded in one take.

Doctors are said to have informed the 76 year old's family, "she could go at any time", and her sister-in-law Cendia Franklin told Radar Online the outlook is "not looking good".

While Diana Ross said she's "sitting in prayer" for Franklin's spirit. Through gospel-influenced musical rearrangement, and her striking changes to melodic content, she effectively re-authored material written by others, asserting a sense of creative ownership through spirited and dynamic vocal performance.

He told BBC Radio 4 the reason he would take her music to a desert island, over and above nearly anyone else's, was because "she'll remind me of my humanity, what's essential in all of us. And that's who she was". That's what makes it especially hard when someone who was so much a part of our social fabric leaves us, and we have no personal way of saying goodbye. She's the performer always ready for the quick escape, the reinvention. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her loved ones at this hard time".

Wexler wrote that he thought of Aretha as "Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows".

  • Salvatore Jensen