Celebrities and prominent figures paid tribute to Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who died Thursday after grappling with serious illness. The family said that the cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.
Franklin’s prolific career spanned six decades and included hit songs like “Respect,” “A Natural Woman” and “I Say a Little Prayer.” Even in her 70s, she was still performing. Franklin was known not just for her musical talent, but also for her messages of female empowerment.
Within minutes after news of her death, tributes to the powerful singer started pouring in from musicians, actors, producers, high-profile executives, political figures and others.
Her contemporary, Patti LaBelle, said Franklin was a “rare treasure whose unmatched musical genius helped craft the soundtrack to the lives of so many.”
Elton John remembered Franklin’s last performance at his AIDS Foundation Fall Gala in November and said he wasn’t sure if she’d be able to perform because she was “obviously unwell.” However, the diva powered through, John said: “She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time.”
Diana Ross said she was praying for her fellow diva.
Both of the living Beatles remembered Franklin on Twitter.
Former President Barack Obama, who was moved to tears during her 2015 Kennedy Center performance of “A Natural Woman,” said the singer “helped define the American experience.”
President Donald Trump said the singer “will be missed.”
John Legend called her “the greatest vocalist” he’s ever known.
Tony Bennett remembered singing with her on his 85th birthday.
Lin-Manuel Miranda said he felt lucky he got to see her perform “exactly once.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, a friend of Franklin’s, asked people to take a pause to remember the singer.
Producer Shonda Rhimes tweeted a video of Franklin’s aforementioned Kennedy Center performance from 2015.
Hillary Clinton said Franklin deserves “lasting gratitude” for the impact of her art.
Director Ava DuVernay called her “peerless.”
Actress and singer Bette Midler called Franklin “the greatest voice in American popular music” and her own “musical lighthouse.”
Missy Elliott says she imagines Franklin in heaven, “still making people souls move.”
Bravo host and producer Andy Cohen highlighted Franklin’s vocal talent and said, “Aretha Franklin is the embodiment of a soul blessed with a special gift. Grateful we have decades of recordings that will live on. Long Live The Queen.”
Hugh Jackman said that one of his career highlights was performing with Franklin at the Tony Awards, which he called “an out of body experience.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out that Franklin took part in some of the nation’s biggest moments.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that Franklin’s talent uplifted people around the world.