World Pays Tribute to Aretha Franklin, the Undisputed “Queen of Soul”

Aretha Franklin Tribute

Photo: Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The world lost a legend on August 16, 2018. Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul,” passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. She died in her home in Detroit surrounded by loved ones.

Franklin had a profound impact on the music industry, and she redefined the role of women (particularly black women) in pop music. Her incredible talent and passion for her work are evident in songs like “Respect” and “I Say a Little Prayer,” which have undoubtedly been included on the soundtracks of many lives. These hits, along with many more, lead her to become the “most charted” female singer in Billboard history and the recipient of 18 Grammy Awards. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Rolling Stone sums it up best by calling her the “greatest singer of all time.”

As many mourn her death, the family released a statement through Franklin’s longtime publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts,” they said. “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.”

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters, and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Former President Obama helped to articulate why the loss of Franklin is so acutely felt. “Aretha helped define the American experience,” he tweeted. “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. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”

The world lost Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” on August 16, 2018. Known for her amazing voice, here are 20 of essential songs.

Your musical idols were likely to have Franklin as their idol, and many of them—including celebrities—paid tribute to the Queen of Soul through posts on social media.


The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists. 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. She was obviously unwell, and I wasn’t sure she could perform. But Aretha did and she raised the roof. She sang and played magnificently, and we all wept. We were witnessing the greatest soul artist of all time. I adored her and worshipped her talent. God bless her. My condolences to all her family and friends. We shared the same birthday – and that meant so much to me. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. @arethasings #RIP #ArethaFranklin #QueenOfSoul @ejaf

A post shared by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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