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    American singer Aretha Franklin dies aged 76

    Aretha Franklin, American "queen of soul", has died in Detroit at the age of 76, BBC reports.

    The legendary singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and announced last year she was retiring from music.

    Franklin had 17 Top Ten US chart hits over a music career spanning seven decades.

    The star gave her final performance last November at a gala in New York held in aid of the Elton John Aids Foundation.
    In a statement, her family said: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart.

    "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins knew no bounds."

    The family also confirmed her death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

    Born in Memphis to a gospel singer/pianist and a celebrated Baptist preacher, Franklin was tutored from an early age by such gospel stars as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward.
    She struggled to find fame in the early years, with record label Columbia unsure how to frame her impressively powerful voice.

    A move to Atlantic Records in 1966 saw Franklin paired with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, prompting some of her most soulful and fieriest performances.

    By 1968 she was renowned throughout America and Europe as "Lady Soul" - a symbol of black pride who appeared on the cover of Time and was given an award by Martin Luther King.

    After an eye-catching cameo in cult comedy The Blues Brothers, she scored a number of big hits in the 1980s including Who's Zooming Who? and the George Michael duet I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).

    She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush in 2005, when she was saluted for "capturing the hearts of millions of Americans".

    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.

    Aretha Franklin's greatest hits
    • Respect - US number one and double Grammy winner in 1967

    • (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - a top 10 US hit in 1967

    • Chain of Fools - reached number two in the US in 1968

    • Think - another US top 10 hit in '68

    • I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) - a duet with George Michael, number one in the US and UK in 1987



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