How a Jewish music producer helped Aretha Franklin get her big break

Aretha Franklin, the long-reigning "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think" and her signature song, "Respect", died Thursday morning at age 76, said her representative, Gwendolyn Quinn.

The 18-time Grammy award victor inspired multiple singers during her five-decade career from pop diva Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston, to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J Blige and the late Amy Winehouse. "We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family", he said.

The soul singer has been dogged by reports of failing health for years and appeared frail in recent photos, but she has kept her struggles private. The whole world will miss her but will always rejoice in her remarkable legacy. Here she is performing on Top of the Pops in 1968.

Franklin, who received a Kennedy Center honor in 1994, was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, in 1987. She will forever be the Queen of Soul and so much more to all who knew her personally and through her music. The image hails from a 2014 performance at the White House, where she sang for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. "The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds", the family said. A then-22-year-old Eric Clapton played on her stunning 1967 track, "Good to Me As I Am to You," while a young Duane Allman famously lent his talents to a number of Franklin recordings in the late Sixties. Her father was a church minister and her mother a prolific pianist and gospel singer.

'We sincerely apologize to Aretha Franklin's family and friends, ' Jessica Santostefano, Fox News Media Desk Vice President, said in a statement.

Franklin, who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think, ' "I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, 'Respect", announced her retirement from touring a year ago.

Clinton and his wife, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, on Thursday paid tribute to Franklin as "one of America's greatest national treasures". She could sing pop standards alongside Barbra Streisand, who was her label mate in the 1960s before she moved to Atlantic.

Aretha Franklin has managed to grow and live in the hearts of over 5 generations across the globe. "Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, they're lovely singers, but to me, Aretha just stood out differently from all of them". Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher's daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song. Her publicist told The Associated Press that she died surrounded by her family and friends.

"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", he added.

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