Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn told The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died on Thursday at 9:50am (local time) at her home in Detroit.
Aretha Franklin, the teenage gospel singer who rose to become the Queen of Soul, selling 75 million records and inspiring generations, has died. This was where 14-year-old Aretha recorded her first album, 1956's Songs of Faith.
Franklin had one more trick up her sleeve, bringing down the house at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors when she performed "Natural Woman" with songwriter Carole King and President Obama in attendance.
She was last seen performing in August 2017 at Elton John's AIDS Foundation Party, where Showbiz 411 claimed she was "fighting exhaustion and dehydration".
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"Other hits that followed included "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "Call Me", and the 1972 gospel album "Amazing Grace". As she confided in a 1995 Ebony cover story that appeared halfway through a seven-year gap between albums, The Queen slept until noon, watched her soaps, and cooked for friends and family.
According to CNN, Franklin was extremely private and rarely discussed her personal life.
Her biographer David Ritz, who told the New York Times she was not easy to interview, wrote: "Self-reflection was never Aretha's strong suit".
Franklin was born in Memphis, the daughter of an itinerant-preacher father and a musician mother.
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Franklin had two children from relationships when she was a teenager.
Franklin did not perform regularly for many years, partly because of an aversion to flying after a rough trip in 1982. Her subsequent marriage to actor Glynn Turman ended in divorce in 1984. And even while racism raged through much of the country, her work with Jerry Wexler - a white, Jewish journalist-turned-producer - proved that artists could come together to create something truly transcendent. It was only after she left Columbia and linked up with the visionary producer Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records in 1967 that her career really took off.
"Gospel goes with me wherever I go", Franklin said in an interview with PBS.
After half a century in the music business, Franklin created her own label and released "A Woman Falling Out of Love", a record that only had modest sales in the U.S and stayed on the Billboard charts for just two weeks. "Music changes, and I'm gonna change right along with it", she said in a prophetic interview over 40 years earlier.
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She was married twice, first to guitarist Theodore "Ted" White with whom she had her third son Ted White Jr, who would later perform as a guitarist in Franklin's touring band. Her last public performance came on November 7, where she sang at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala in New York City.