Aretha Franklin died of advance pancreatic cancer, her publicist said.
The legend's health had been a concern in recent years. One of the most iconic musicians of the twentieth century, Franklin said previous year that she planned to retire soon from touring. She won a total of 18 Grammy awards; the first in 1967 for "Respect".
Ten years later she reduced President Barack Obama to tears when she sang (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at a Kennedy Center Honours ceremony, having previously performed at his inauguration.
According to CNN, Franklin was extremely private and rarely discussed her personal life. She received our nation's greatest honor in 2005 when she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. "She had class", Franklin said about Houston in a Rolling Stone article weeks after Houston's 2012 death.
The legendary performer, a mother of four, became an 18-time Grammy Award victor during a career spanning more than six decades.
A 1968 Time magazine article reported Franklin was in an abusive relationship with her first husband, Ted White, who was also her manager. In March of 2018, she canceled a pair of scheduled concerts in due to what her management described as doctor's orders. Even with a secure seat so high in the American musical canon, she was capable of pulling off marvelous surprises. She was an instant success on R&B radio and on the touring circuit, but she really exploded into the pop consciousness in 1966, when she moved from Columbia to Atlantic. In 2016, she made headlines when she donated hotel stays and food to nearby Flint residents during their water crisis. Franklin propelled her career into the 1970s with acclaimed albums like the moving gospel showcase Amazing Grace and the critically acclaimed and musically adventurous LPs Spirit in the Dark and Young, Gifted, and Black.
Throughout her later career, Franklin suffered accusations she was a diva to deal with.
Her album of the same name also featured her signature number, a rendition of Otis Redding's Respect, which topped the chart.
The superstar was said to be surrounded by her loved ones.
"Gospel goes with me wherever I go", Franklin said in an interview with PBS.
Last November, at the age of 75, she gave her final performance at a gala in NY in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation.
By this point, Franklin had divorced her second husband, actor Glynn Turman, whom she married in 1978; moved from California back to Detroit to assist her father who was shot during a burglary in his home; and stopped flying (Franklin's infrequent tours after 1983 were conducted by bus).