Sir Paul McCartney, 76, said: "Let's all take a moment to give thanks for the lovely life of Aretha Franklin, the queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many, many years". Franklin, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for many years, was in the presence of her family in Detroit at the time of her death.
Many may not know it but the Queen of Soul's "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" was her first hit record. "We shook hands and I curtsied", Franklin said in the statement circulated by her publicist.
"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".
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced but sources say it will be held at a number of venues and will span several days.
Franklin announced her partial retirement past year, most recently performing in November at Sir Elton John's Aids Foundation's 25th anniversary gala in NY.
"She performed for 60 years".
"Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated - she was one of my favourite pianists", he said.
In celebration of the long life and storied career of this monumental artist we've collected some of her best hymns and gospel tunes to share. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance - a benefit for the Elton John Aids Foundation at St John The Divine Cathedral.
Aretha Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis Tennesse to C.L Franklin and Barbara Siggers Franklin.
She remembers the iconic singer as a lovely, young woman who was a "consummate entertainer".
She had a voice that could stop you in your tracks, an incredible legacy of music - and also popped up in one of the most joyous, toe-tapping movie scenes ever filmed.
Anthony Bailey, left, and Lythe Aikens both live in Detroit and said they have been listening to Franklin's music all their lives. I was fortunate enough to spend time with her and witness her last performance.
Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She often did not get along with other women singers, including her sisters, could be quick to fire underlings and was erratic when it came to showing up for concerts and appointments.
"He provided the vehicle to allow me to perform and express myself", Franklin told The Wall Street Journal following Wexler's death in 2008.
Showing her famed sense of humour, Aretha responded by pretending to compete with Patti in a lane outside of music.
And it was in Detroit that she played one of her final shows - in June a year ago, visibly unwell but still able to summon the magical voice that had made her famous.
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