The Queen of Soul died in Detroit surrounded by friends and family. The official cause of death was pancreatic cancer, an affliction that statistics show lopsidedly affects Black people.
UPDATED: 10:38 a.m. EDT, Aug. 15 — Dozens of people paid tribute to Aretha Franklin Wednesday morning during a prayer vigil at the Detroit church the Queen of Soul’s father was once a reverend, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The New Bethel Baptist Church current Rev. Robert Smith Jr. led the prayer.
“Father God, we come this morning asking you to touch the Queen of Soul today. Lord we ask you to touch her even right now. Lord you know her because you blessed her right here in this church many years ago,” he said. “You blessed her father to be one of the greatest preachers of the 20th Century. But then, Holy Father, you gifted her with the gift of song. Then Holy Father you have allowed her to share her gift with this world. Then Lord you have allowed us to be touched not only by the gift of her music but by her generous spirit, her kind acts and deeds.”
A tribute concert for Franklin was also reportedly being planned for the fall. The event could be scheduled to take place ion November at Madison Square Garden in New York City, according to Rolling Stone.
The news came days after it was reported that Franklin was in declining health as friends and family surrounded her at her home in Detroit. Friends of the family described her as “gravely ill” and “seriously ill.” That stood in contrast to her nephew reportedly saying his aunt was “alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people.”
UPDATED: 2:52 p.m. EDT, Aug. 14 — After reports emerged that Aretha Franklin was feeling better following news of her being “gravely ill,” the singer’s publicist told the Detroit Free Press that wasn’t exactly true.
“She is seriously ill and surrounded by family members who appreciate the outpouring of love and support they have received,” Gwendolyn Quinn said.
Prior to the Free Press’ news article, People.com published an interview with Franklin’s nephew, who said his aunt was “alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people.”
Tim Franklin continued: “We believe she’ll pull through it, she believes she’ll pull through it, and that’s the important thing.”
While Tim Franklin expressed an upbeat, optimistic sentiment, Quinn’s statement seemed to imply the opposite.
UPDATED: 11:16 p.m. EDT, Aug. 13 — Aretha Franklin was receiving “hospice care” in her home as of Monday night, according to a new report from CNN anchor Don Lemon, who cited “a source close to the 76-year-old singer.”
The latest update came about 24 hours after news first broke Sunday night that the singer was “gravely ill.” At the time, she was given just hours to live. The fact that hospice care was involved may provide a glimpse into Franklin’s state.
“At some point, it may not be possible to cure a serious illness, or a patient may choose not to undergo certain treatments. Hospice is designed for this situation,” according to the National Institutes for Health. “The patient beginning hospice care understands that his or her illness is not responding to medical attempts to cure it or to slow the disease’s progress.”
Prior to hospice care at her home, Franklin was receiving medical attention at a hospital in Detroit, according to local news outlet WXYZ.
UPDATED: 10:19 a.m. EDT, Aug. 13 — The family of Aretha Franklin said on Monday that the legendary singer was “gravely ill,” confirming reports that surfaced Sunday night. Detroit’s WDIV-TV published its report Monday morning following Showbiz 411’s initial news story about Franklin’s alleged declining health.
The story was given further legitimacy when the Associated Press tweeted about it Monday morning.
The 76-year-old legendary singer has been dogged by rumors of cancer since at least 2011, when she told Jet exclusively that doctors advised her to cancel all concerts until May because of her health.
“I am not one to do a lot of talking about my personal health or business,” she said at the time. “Not too much, not too much. There are a lot of people who will talk about anything, as long as there is somebody listening. But I am not one of those people. That’s not Aretha.”
“I am not going to even deal with that. “I don’t have to talk about my health with anybody other than my doctors. The problem has been resolved.”
The National Enquirer published reports in May 2017 of Franklin having lost more than 100 pounds because of a “cancer relapse,” an anonymous source told the tabloid. “She was due to have radical chemotherapy treatments, and was told by doctors she needed to lose weight if she wanted to survive.”
The following month, she canceled a concert in Toronto scheduled for July because of “doctors orders,” according to the Daily Mail.
Showbiz 411 reported that Franklin was “[o]riginally diagnosed with cancer in 2010.” However, while she admitted in 2011 that she had gone “through a number of procedures,” Franklin told Access Hollywood that “I don’t know where ‘pancreatic cancer’ [reports] came from.”
She had “highly successful” surgery in 2010, though she never addressed the details of the procedure that forced her to cancel a series of scheduled concerts at the time.
Franklin began her career nearly 60 years ago, with the first of her 42 studio albums released in 1956 at the age of 14, on her way to collecting 20 Grammy Awards and dozens of other musical prizes and accolades.