Aretha Franklin, the voice that became the backbone of gospel-rooted singing earning her the title “the Queen of Soul,” has died at age of 76, a family statement said Thursday.
According to CNN, Franklin died at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, surrounded by family and friends.
The “official cause of death was due to advanced 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.
Shortly after the world lost one of it’s best voices, stars and leaders expressed their condolences. Some of these tributes show the difference in characters of some important figures in the U.S. political world.
For example, Former President Barack Obama wrote how she had a voice that offered “a glimpse of the divine,” in which Americans could feel “our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump could not resist opening his remarks on the singer’s death with a little self-promotion, The Guardian wrote.
“I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well. She worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific – Aretha Franklin – on her passing,” Trump said at a White House cabinet meeting, according to a pool report. “She’s brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come. She was given a great gift from God – her voice, and she used it well. People loved Aretha. She was a special woman. So just want to pass on my warmest best wishes and sympathies to her family.”
The Guardian reported that the “Queen of Soul” performed at one of Trump’s casinos and was photographed with him at the grand opening of New York’s Trump International Hotel & Tower in 1997.
Franklin attracted more attention for her performance at Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. She also sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, attended by Obama, and her performance moved him to tears.
However, the Obamas’ statement was more focused on Franklin’s importance to Americans.
“America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine,” they said. “Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade – our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”