Aretha Franklin dead at age 76, publicist confirms

Aretha Franklin has died at the age of 76.

The singer, often referred to as the Queen of Soul, passed away on Thursday morning at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit, her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday morning. 

"Franklin's official cause of death was due to advance pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karamonos Cancer Institute," the statement read.

"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," her family said in a statement. "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," Franklin's family's statement continued. "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."

See photos of Aretha Franklin throughout her life:

48 PHOTOS
Aretha Franklin through the years
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Aretha Franklin through the years
American singer Aretha Franklin looks over her shoulder, her hair pulled up into a beehive style, 1961. Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Photo by Metronome/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1962: Soul singer Aretha Franklin poses for a portrait in circa 1962. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1964: Soul singer Aretha Franklin poses for a portrait in circa 1964. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Aretha FRANKLIN; Posed portrait of Aretha Franklin (Photo by RB/Redferns)
circa 1960: Studio portrait of American singer Aretha Franklin, wearing a beaded top. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1964: Soul singer Aretha Franklin works in the studio with an engineer in circa 1964. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW -- Aired 5/4/69 -- Pictured: Aretha Franklin (Photo by Fred A. Sabine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW -- Aired 5/4/69 -- Pictured: Aretha Franklin (Photo by Fred A. Sabine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
CIRCA 1965: Soul singer Aretha Franklin poses for a portrait in circa 1965. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Aretha Franklin performs at Martin Luther King Jr Benefit Concert on June 28, 1968 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
American soul singer Aretha Franklin, a star on the Atlantic record label. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 28: Soul singer Aretha Franklin performs onstage at the Soul Together concert on June 28, 1968 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 09: Soul singer Aretha Franklin sings in the Atlantic Records studio during 'The Weight' recording session on January 9, 1969 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MUSCLE SHOALS, AL - JANUARY 9: Singer Aretha Franklin smokes as cigarette as she works in the studio by a microphone at Muscle Shoals Studios on January 9, 1969 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: TOP OF THE POPS Photo of Aretha FRANKLIN (Photo by Ron Howard/Redferns)
384820 04: Singer Aretha Franklin with show host and producer Don Cornelius. Franklin was one of many entertainers who performed on 'Soul Train' in the 1970''s, part of the Soul Train 30th Anniversary 'Divas and Kings 2000 & Beyond.' (Photo by 2001 Tribune Entertainment)
Aretha Franklin (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
NEW YORK - JULY 01 : Singer Aretha Franklin performs on stage as part of the Newport Jazz Festival held in New York City in July 1973. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
Portrait of American singer and musician Aretha Franklin, 1973. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
MUHAMMAD ALI VARIETY SPECIAL - Airdate: May 16, 1975. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ARETHA FRANKLIN
1976 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS - Airdate: January 31, 1976. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) L-R: OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN;GLEN CAMPBELL;ARETHA FRANKLIN
Publicity photo of soul music singer Aretha Franklin, June 4, 1977. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1978: Soul singer Aretha Franklin attends an event in circa 1978. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1980: Singer Aretha Franklin poses for a portrait in 1980 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
Portrait of American musician Aretha Franklin as she poses backstage during ChicagoFest, Chicago, Illinois, August 3, 1981. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
1983 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS - Show Coverage - Airdate: January 17, 1983. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ARETHA FRANKLIN
American musician Aretha Franklin performs on stage at the Hyatt Hotel during the 1985 NBA All-Star Game celebration, Chicago, Illinois, April 18, 1985. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK- JULY 5: Aretha Franklin at a party in New York City on July 5, 1989. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)
Singer Aretha Franklin at Grammy Awards. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Aretha Franklin Attending a party at the Hilton Hotel, New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
American musician Aretha Franklin performs on stage at the Park West Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois, March 23, 1992. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
Aretha Franklin during Grand Opening of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, 1995 at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, OH, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Aretha Franklin (Photo by Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton (R) along with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton presents singer Aretha Franklin (C) with the 1999 National Medal of Arts and Humanities Award 29 September, 1999, at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 01: RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL Photo of Aretha FRANKLIN, Aretha Franklin performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on September 20, 2003 (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - DECEMBER 17: Aretha Franklin attends Joe Blount 50th Birthday Celebration at Cipriani 42nd street on December 17, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Christian Grattan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Airdate 12/11/2009 -- Pictured: Aretha Franklin appears on NBC News' 'Today' show (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 06: Former Kennedy Center honoree Aretha Franklin arrives at the 32nd Kennedy Center Honors at Kennedy Center Hall of States on December 6, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Aretha Franklin poses backstage at the hit play 'The Mountaintop' on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on December 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
LIVE WITH KELLY AND MICHAEL -12/24/12 - The legendary Aretha Franklin stops by the newly-rechristened syndicated talk show, LIVE with Kelly and Michael,' distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) ARETHA FRANKLIN
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - OCTOBER 06: Aretha Franklin performs in concert at the Etess Arena on October 6, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images)
Aretha Franklin attends the 'Selma' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. ?? LAN (Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Singer Aretha Franklin attends the 2014 Billboard Women In Music Luncheon at Cipriani Wall Street on December 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Singer Aretha Franklin attends the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/FilmMagic)
Detroit native Aretha Franklin sing the National Anthem prior the game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Thursday, November 24, 2016. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Aretha Franklin performs onstage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Aretha Franklin performs onstage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Aretha Franklin performs onstage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Commemorates Its 25th Year And Honors Founder Sir Elton John During New York Fall Gala at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)
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Franklin's passing follows reports that she was "gravely ill" in hospice care at home in Detroit, Michigan that surfaced on Monday, August 13. Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman was the first to report on Franklin's recent decline in health, noting that she was surrounded by family and friends.

The 18-time Grammy winner had never publicly confirmed that she was suffering from any illness, despite years of reports that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Those close to her say that Franklin was first diagnosed back in 2010, when she was forced to cancel a string of performances and underwent surgery for an undisclosed ailment.

In February of 2017, Franklin announced that she was retiring from touring but would continue to perform at select events. Last summer, in August, she performed in Philadelphia, which was her last public performance. Months later, in November, she delivered what would be her final performance at a private event for Elton John's AIDS foundation. That same month, she released her final album, "A Brand New Me."

Franklin, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 25, 1942, started singing gospel music at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father was a minister. At the age of 18, she was signed to Columbia Records, but her commercial success didn't come until she signed to Atlantic Records in 1967. Some of her first singles at the label included such career-defining songs as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman" and "Respect," which shot to No. 1 on multiple charts and would go on to become a worldwide anthem.

Stars react to Aretha Franklin's death:

27 PHOTOS
World reacts to death of Aretha Franklin
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World reacts to death of Aretha Franklin
There is a bright FLAME about to go out , ONLY GOD KNOW WHEN Say a prayer and let her go -deep Breath
My thoughts, my heart and my prayers are with Aretha Franklin, the greatest singer of all time, and all of her loved ones right now. ❤
The loss of @ArethaFranklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Ch… https://t.co/B2hyd3jckZ
Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul. The Icon. The ultimate singers' singer. The greatest singer and musician of my… https://t.co/wIsc0Ktobs
You showed me I could sing the songs I wanted to sing and bring God with me. You've inspired millions everywhere ye… https://t.co/y0eJRdakP8
I will forever cherish the moments I spent in your presence. Your indelible impact was earned not only by your inco… https://t.co/FIWV1M0iOF
Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade… https://t.co/hUcQpbdydq
Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only o… https://t.co/a5lZIFYMCL
Salute to the Queen. The greatest vocalist I've ever known. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 #Aretha
Like people all around the world, Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight & listening to her music… https://t.co/ZOiopFEYeU
This photo was taken in 2012 when Aretha & I performed at a tribute celebration for our friend Marvin Hamlisch. It’… https://t.co/cwLCGbVVmP
Love and prayers for Aretha Franklin. The most soulful angelic voice that ever was. You are the queen and we love you. ❤️
Lucky enough to have seen Aretha live exactly once, and this was it. Thank you for the music, we will be listening… https://t.co/tMwKepFLYl
The @AmericanIdol fam had the great privilege of working with the iconic Aretha Franklin for a special ep in Detroi… https://t.co/UZ4mbEMbq7
Aretha.
Goodbye Ms. Aretha. You were my idol. The greatest singer of all time. Every note you sang was pure and authentic… https://t.co/NQkPqu1OHu
R.I.P. Aretha Franklin Queen Of Soul 🙏🏿
We mourn the passing of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Her voice will keep lifting us, through the music she g… https://t.co/GzNto6ldXn
RIP Aretha Franklin
My prayers are with Aretha Franklin & her family during this difficult time 🙏🏾 LOOK BELOW @ what I tweeted at the t… https://t.co/O33cqaJ1RG
RIP Aretha Franklin. Trailblazer, icon, and Queen. Thank you, thank you, thank you. #RESPECT
RIP Aretha Franklin, a true great. Thank you for your music x
Queen. My Queen, We Are Singing You A Sunrise. Surrounding You with Love & Light @ArethaFranklin... Queen. OUR QUEE… https://t.co/Z44Ig82DMq
Rest In Peace to the Queen #ArethaFranklin #QueenofSoul 🙏🏽 https://t.co/99aDN8UfSO
RIP #ArethaFranklin - you changed music forever and will be remembered as one of the all time greats. The world has… https://t.co/v41oZryF2j
RIP Aretha Franklin what a voice x
There will NEVER be another Aretha Franklin. Only those inspired by her as they reach for the impossible. https://t.co/9iYaGo0ZoW
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Other early hits included "Chain of Fools," "Think" and "I Say A Little Prayer." After her chart successes slowed down in the mid-'70s, Franklin went on to sign with Clive Davis' Arista Records in 1980. She achieved her final Top 40 hit with "A Rose Is Still a Rose," produced by Lauryn Hill, in 1998.

Throughout her career, she would go on to sell over 75 million records, be nominated for 44 Grammys (winning 18 of them), become the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and become the youngest-ever recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor at the age of 52 in 1994. 

In 2005, President George W. Bush awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she also performed at the inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In addition, Franklin sang at the memorial service for longtime friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and memorably filled in for Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards with just two hours notice, singing "Nessun Dorma" in an emotional performance considered to be one of the best in the award show's history.

Franklin has four children, the first of which she had at the age of 12, in 1955. She was also married twice: First to Theodore "Ted" White in 1961. They went on to divorce in 1969. She then married actor Glynn Turman in 1978 before getting separated in 1982 and divorced in 1984. She also had a longtime companion in Willie Wilkerson, who she was connected to for several decades later in life.

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