Aretha Franklin Dead at 76: John Legend, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand and More Pay Tribute to Queen of Soul

Music industry has taken to social media to react to the heartbreaking news

By Jess Cohen Aug 16, 2018 3:00 PMTags

Aretha Franklin has passed away the age of 76.

The music icon passed away on Thursday morning at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones, her rep confirmed to E! News, adding that her official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type.

"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," Franklin's family said in a statement Thursday. "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." 

After the heartbreaking news of Franklin's passing was announced, the entertainment industry took to social media to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul.

Aretha Franklin, "Queen of Soul," Dead at 76

"Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known," John Legend tweeted. He also posted a photo with Franklin on Instagram, writing, "The greatest singer of all time. We were blessed to have her walk this earth for 76 years. So grateful for the gift of Aretha Franklin."

Barbra Streisand shared a photo with Franklin with the caption, "This photo was taken in 2012 when Aretha & I performed at a tribute celebration for our friend Marvin Hamlisch. It's difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer,but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world."

Elton John also posted a message about Franklin, writing to his Instagram followers, "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."

Aretha Franklin Dead at 76: Remembering the Queen of Soul's Life in Pictures

Paul McCartney tweeted a photo of Franklin, writing, "Let's all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love Paul."

"I'm sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin," Diana Ross tweeted.

Hillary Clinton wrote to followers, "Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend."

"this is truly a sad day," Kelly Rowland wrote on Twitter. "rest peacefully queen. icon. my sincere condolences to her family. #ArethaFranklin."

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama released a statement Thursday which reads, "America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father's congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. 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. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance."

The statement concludes, "Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song."

After hearing about Franklin's death, Solange Knowles tweeted, "Rest in Peace to an icon and the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin."

"Oh queen oh queen how I cry to see you go," Kate Hudson wrote on Instagram. "Like so many others I share the sadness of this loss. A true inspiration, a constant listen in my youth. I remember going deep into her B sides and live performances, always in awe of her ability. To discover the effortlessness of her gift, to take it in and experience the tones that shaped my love for singing. Her instrument like no other. Magic, pure magic. Thank you Aretha."

"The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled," Bette Midler tweeted. "Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone. For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note. I loved her so and love her still. Goodbye, Queen of Soul."

"I'm absolutely devastated by Aretha's passing," Clive Davis tweeted. "She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world. Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend. Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness."

"No one like her. So important to music, culture, civil rights. THE QUEEN OF SOUL," Ricky Martin wrote to his social media followers.

"An unbelievable woman and voice," Shania Twain tweeted to her fans. "It was an honor to meet and perform with the Queen of Soul. RIP Aretha Franklin."

"Our Heavenly Father has chosen one of our most prolific voices to join His Heavenly Choir...............Aretha now rests in peace!!" Dionne Warwick said in a statement Thursday. "I, like I'm sure she was taught, that we are All put on this earth for a purpose, and once that is fulfilled, we will then be "Called Home"! She sincerely will be missed throughout the Musical World, Family, and Friends. My deep heartfelt condolence I send from my family to her family and do hope the grief I know they are feeling will begin to subside with time, as losing a family member is a VERY HARD THING to process. Know that her pain is over and she suffers no longer! Rest in Peace my Friend."

"I am deeply saddened about the passing of the Queen of Soul and my sister is song, Aretha Franklin," Patti LaBelle said Thursday. "Today the world has experienced a tremendous loss. Aretha was a rare treasure whose unmatched musical genius helped craft the soundtrack to the lives of so many. My sympathy, love and prayers go out to her family, loved ones and fans around the globe."

Tony Bennett shared a photo with Franklin along with a message, writing, "It was a double thrill for me to perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera on my 85th birthday and have the Queen of Soul (and heart) Aretha Franklin singing with me....she will be missed by the world."

"RESPECT. Her legendary voice came straight from God," Fergie tweeted. "Now her soul is with Him. Thank you Aretha."

Aretha Franklin Dead at 76: Look Back on Some of Her Biggest History-Making Milestones

"Aretha was such a timeless inspiration to me and so many others, the ultimate queen, thank you for the gift of your voice, music and unshakeable sou," Christina Aguilera tweeted.

Questlove posted a tribute to Franklin on Instagram, writing, "The 3 seconds it takes for #ArethaFranklin to oooooze out the words "Sittin around.." is as pure & creative & as honest as any singer I've ever seen when a performance goes beyond mere entertainment. THIS is what we need to get back to. where raw genius rises above marketing strategy & monetary reach & "likes" (because let's face it, look at the Billboard singles/Spotify singles/ITunes singles—-could she even find space to develop this talent? Or just give up & get a reality show and pray this works out? Now figure out the legions of talent that we either dismissed or passed on today or even the mesmerizing talent we've been shown near this level that can't even begin to thrive in this environment without some angle) for those not in the know & wanna know, with the exception of her yet to be seen Sidney Pollack documentary Amazing Grace (her best captured 2 hours 1972 in chu'ch, in her zone in south central Los Angeles—-w The Rolling Stones sitting IN THE DECON SECTION)—-this Performance at the #MontreuxJazzFestival in 71 is as good as it gets: as a singer, as a bandleader (midshow she calls an audible and the brass section just gives up playing & accepts they are just happy to have best seats in the house), as a piano player—-so underrated!—and the fact she has her ace band in tow too (#KingCurtis as MD & #BernardPurdie on drizzums)—-this is her most magical effortless skillful scientific talents on display. Long Live #QueenAretha."

Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

"Nothing but respect for this queen of soul, gospel, r&b and everything in between," Lena Waithe wrote on Instagram. "Thanks for gracing us with your presence for 76 years. May you rest in power, Ms. Franklin."

John Stamos tweeted, "She was music. Soul, grace and respect! #ArethaFranklin."

"Our gift from Heaven went Home," Nas wrote on Instagram. "Thank You Queen. Aretha Franklin."

"A national treasure to everyone. But to me personally, Aretha Franklin was my dear, dear friend, my homegirl, and I loved her a lot," record executive Berry Gordy said in a statement Thursday. "From seeing her as a baby singing and playing at the piano at her father's home, to her giving a rousing performance at the White House, she has always been amazing. No matter how the music has changed over the years, she remained so relevant. Though never signed to Motown, Aretha was considered part of my family. We always shared fond memories of the Motor City, life, and just things. Her passing is not only a tremendous personal loss for me, but for people all over the world who were touched by her incredible gift and remarkable spirit. Aretha Franklin will always be the undisputed Queen of Soul, and her legacy will live forever. My condolences go out to her sons, other family members, friends and fans.  I will miss her."

"The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus," Faith Hill tweeted along with a photo with Franklin. "I wanted to share this photo because it shows just how soulful Aretha was without uttering a word. To say I was humbled to be in her presence would be an understatement."

"This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father," Smokey Robinson wrote on Twitter. "I will miss her so much but I know she's at peace. #QueenOfSoul."

Naomi Campbell shared a photo of Franklin on Instagram, writing, "RESPECT !!! REST IN PEACE AND POWER OUR TRUE QUEEN . IT WAS AN HONOR TO HAVE MET YOU AND WORKED WITH YOU ."

"I can't remember a day of my life without Aretha Franklin's voice and music filling up my heart with so much joy and sadness," Adele wrote on Instagram. "Absolutely heartbroken she's gone, what a woman. Thank you for everything, the melodies and the movements."

"Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul... A true legend and world icon.... the greatest vocalist and entertainer of all time," Steve Harvey wrote on Instagram. "Aretha paved the way for so many great artists, over 6 decades of music. I thank you for all of your contributions. My condolences and prayers are with the family. God Bless..."

Justin Timberlake shared a photo of him and Franklin performing, telling his Instagram followers, "This is the face of a young man who couldn't believe he was actually singing with the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. Thank you, Ms. Franklin for blessing us all with your incomparable gift. Honored to have shared the stage with you for even a moment and to be inspired by you for a whole lifetime. Always bowing down to you. #QueenofSoul."

"We have lost the greatest singer of our time," Billy Joel tweeted along with a photo of Franklin. "As a songwriter, I know personally how meaningful a gifted interpreter of material can be. No one can replace her."

"The world lost an incredibly talented woman today," Britney Spears tweeted. "Rest In Peace, @ArethaFranklin... your legacy and music will forever inspire us and future generations."

"Lady Soul. The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music. Long live the Queen," Greg Harris, President & CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame said in a statement Thursday.

"I'm deeply saddened to learn that Aretha Franklin has passed," Céline Dion wrote on Facebook. "She was an unbelievable artist, who inspired me and millions of others. She was the most soulful and inspirational singer of our time... there will never be anyone like her. I had the great privilege of performing with Aretha... it was truly one of the greatest moments of my career. I send my prayers and condolences to her family and loved ones."