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Reports say the music icon died from advanced pancreatic cancer in her Detroit home surrounded by family. Here’s a look at her iconic career that spans generations in music and American history.
USA TODAY

Celebrities are reacting to the death of Aretha Franklin.

The “Queen of Soul,” whose impassioned, riveting voice made her a titan of American music, died Thursday morning at home in Detroit of pancreatic cancer, her niece Sabrina Owens confirmed to The Detroit Free Press. She was 76.

Here’s what stars are saying about the late legend.

Celine Dion called her the “most soulful and inspirational singer of our time.”

“I WILL MISS YOU ARETHA FRANKLIN SO MANY NIGHTS YOUR MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE!!” Leslie Jones tweeted.

First daughter Ivanka Trump called Franklin “an artistic genius and trailblazer whose gift to the world transcends time.”

Rod Stewart posted a clip where he called sharing the stage with Franklin “the highlight of my life.” “Always loved you, always will @ArethaFranklin,” he tweeted. “Not only the Queen of Soul but the queen of all our hearts.”

President Trump called Franklin “a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.” He added, “She will be missed!”

Justin Timberlake shared a photo of himself performing with the singer.

“This is the face of a young man who couldn’t believe he was actually singing with the GREATEST OF ALL TIME,” he wrote. “Thank you, Ms. Franklin for blessing us with your incomparable gift. Honored to have shared the stage with you even for a moment. Always bowing down to you.”

Willie Nelson called Franklin the “greatest gift and the voice of a generation.”

He added, “She could turn any song into a hymn. She will be greatly missed here on earth, but that band in heaven just got our Angel.”

“No one did it better,” according to Lionel Richie. He added, “”Her voice; her presence; her style… Truly the Queen of Soul. I will miss you!”

Speaking to the iconic singer, Britney Spears said “your legacy and music will forever inspire us and future generations.”

In a series of tweets, Don Cheadle recalled a surprise phone chat he had with Franklin, a fan of the movie in which he played Miles Davis, “Miles Ahead.”

“her call meant as much or more to me than any compliment ever received,” Cheadle shared with his followers. “there will never be about her like her. the undeniable g.o.a.t.! and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. freedom. freedom. freedom …”

“For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note,” Bette Midler explained. “I loved her so and love her still.”

Thinking of her legacy, Steve Harvey tweeted: “Aretha paved the way for so many great artists, over 6 decades of music. Thank you for all of your contributions.”

Motown record company founder Berry Gordy described Franklin as “a national treasure to everyone” in a statement to the Detroit Free Press.

“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,” he continued. “No matter how the music has changed over the years, she remained so relevant.”

“You sang and lifted the spirits of all who heard you,” gushed Yusuf Islam, also known as Cat Stevens. “May the eternal source of peace be your destination.”

Taraji P. Henson expressed her appreciation to Franklin for “feeding our souls for so long!!!”

Former vice president Al Gore lauded the artist’s ability to bring people together. “@ArethaFranklin was a unique thread in the fabric of our nation’s history,” he said. “The Queen of Soul’s music played a vital role in uniting this country during some of our most trying times. She will be missed.”

Diddy called her “THE GOAT (Greatest of all time) THE QUEEN”

Jennifer Nettles said, “As singers, we all aspire to her passion, authenticity, and power. Her talents, gifts and contributions changed hearts and touched lives. She was and remains a national treasure.”

Martha Reeves said, “The Lord has come to take my ‘Soul Sister’ home.”

She continued, “Aretha Franklin was a true Icon in Detroit and around the world. My prayers go out to the family during this time. Her legacy and friendship will forever be remembered”

The official Twitter account for The Rolling Stones remembered Franklin’s powerful pipes. “Very sad to hear the news about Aretha, she was so inspiring and wherever you were she always brought you to church.”

Speaking as a songwriter, Billy Joel shared, “I know personally how meaningful a gifted interpreter of material can be. No one can replace her.”

Ariana Grande shared a clip of Franklin singing, along with a heart and simple message: “forever.”

Missy Elliott envisioned a lively concert above. “I imagine u in heaven performing & still making people souls move,” she tweeted.

Brian Wilson praised his fellow artist. “She was one of the greatest and most emotional singers.”

Reflecting on her “sister in song,” Patti LaBelle tweeted a statement which read: “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.”

Along with a video of her singing Franklin’s “Respect,” Reba McEntire shared, “I’ve had so many influences in my life, and one of them is the Queen of Soul. Rest In Peace, Aretha. I’ll sing this one for you.”

Tony Bennett, now 92, shared a photograph from his 85th birthday performing with “the Queen of Soul (and heart).” He added: “she will be missed by the world.”

Ringo Starr shared his thoughts along with multiple emojis. “God bless Aretha Franklin the queen of soul and peace and love to her family,” he wrote.

In a statement to USA TODAY Thursday, Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, described Franklin as “an incomparable artist who came to be recognized as one of the most profound voices in music.”

More: Aretha Franklin’s greatest pop culture moments

Along with a photo of her and Franklin, Faith Hill wrote, “The choir of angels now have the greatest voice of all time to lead, praise and join in to sing before Jesus.”

“I wanted to share this photo because it shows just how soulful Aretha was without uttering a word,” she continued. “To say I was humbled to be in her presence would be an understatement.”

In tribute to “longest friend in this world,” Smokey Robinson shared, “I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace.”

Through her tears, Danielle Brooks, shared a black and white photo beaming beside Franklin.

“Hearing the news of her passing has left me in tears but I’m grateful to God that I got to share this smile with her,” the “Orange Is the New Black” actress wrote. “Thank you Aretha Franklin for leaving such an incredible legacy for generations among generations to stand on.”

With coy mentions of her beloved tunes, George Takei tweeted: “She made millions feel like natural women, and she earned our everlasting Respect with each performance. May Aretha Franklin’s voice ring now throughout the heavens.”

Paul McCartney encouraged his followers to “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.”

He continued: “She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.” 

“There Will never be another,” Bernadette Peters declared. “Thank you for giving us all of you!!”

Speaking to the artist she described as “the ultimate queen,” Christina Aguilera tweeted: “thank you for the gift of your voice, music and unshakeable soul.”

“Her legendary voice came straight from God. Now her soul is with Him,” tweeted Fergie.

Along with lyrics to Franklin’s “Natural Woman,” Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Her voice/swagger was peerless. Thank you, #ArethaFranklin”

Carole King tweeted, “What a life. What a legacy! So much love, respect and gratitude. R.I.P.”

Gucci Mane also tweeted his condolences. “RIP Aretha Franklin,” he said.

Making a reference to a Franklin classic, actress Debbie Allen tweeted: “We Will Always Love You Aretha We Will Always Speak Your Name And Give RESPECT.”

Lenny Kravitz lovingly announced to his followers: “The Queen of Soul has left this earth to sit on her throne in heaven. How blessed we were to hear the best that God had to offer in her voice.”

“She means so much to me and was such an influence on me with my music,” Kravitz told USA TODAY on Monday, saying he became close to Franklin after performing with her in 2009. “I learned so much from her, and we became friendly during that time. We would talk on the phone after that and talk about doing some things together.”

On Twitter, Diana Ross reflected on Franklin’s “wonderful golden spirit.”

The loss of @ArethaFranklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music,” Elton John wrote. “Music from the heart, the soul and the Church.”

Kelly Rowland wished a blissful rest for Franklin: “rest peacefully queen.”

Chance The Rapper posted lyrics from “I Say a Little Prayer” from Franklin’s album “Aretha Now” in 1968.

“Today we have lost one of the greatest,” Ricky Martin tweeted. “She will always be remembered and admired.”

Hillary Clinton also memorialized her “friend” on the social media site.

“She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts,” Clinton tweeted.

Reverend Al Sharpton hoped followers would “take a pause today to remember the life of a beautiful soul. “

“Her contributions are legendary both personally and societally,”  he shared.

John Legend gave a “Salute to the Queen.” He praised her as “The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known.”

A seemingly shocked and broken-hearted Shonda Rhimes tweeted simply “Aretha.”

“Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen remarked, “There will never be another Queen of Soul,” calling Franklin “the embodiment of a soul blessed with a special gift.”

Sharing a photo with Franklin from 2012, Barbra Streisand wrote, “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.”

John Stamos shared, “She was music. Soul, grace and respect!”

“One of the highlights of my career was singing with #ArethaFranklin at The Tony Awards,” Hugh Jackman remembered of the 2005 performance. “It was an out of body experience for me. One of greatest singers of all time. You will be missed by all.”

Idina Menzel bid her “idol” farewell with a touching tribute. “Every note you sang was pure and authentic and pierced our hearts with joy and pain and life,” she posted.

Lena Waithe said, “The world won’t be the same without you in it. You will always have our utmost respect.”

Jamie Lee Curtis shared an aptly-worded message of remembrance. “R E S P E C T,” she tweeted.

Sterling K. Brown shared the news with the hashtag “#RIPQueen.”

English DJ Tony Blackburn tweeted “So sorry to hear about the death of Aretha Franklin at the age of 76.I’ve been playing her records since the 60’s and thought her music was wonderful.”

Former Attorney General Eric Holder gushed over the musician. “Through her unparalleled gift and hard work she spoke for people too often without their own voice,” he shared. “She – and her artistry – were gifts to us from God.”

In tribute to the first female inducted, the official Twitter account for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described Franklin as “an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook predicted “Her voice will keep lifting us, through the music she gave the world.”

Sony Music’s Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis shared that Franklin’s death left him “absolutely devastated. “

“She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul,” he tweeted. “She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world.”

He added: “Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend.  Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness.”

“you gave this world so much light & Love,” rapper Swizz Beatz recalled. 

More: Lenny Kravitz is praying for Aretha Franklin: ‘She means so much to me’

More: Aretha Franklin: Morning vigil in Detroit church honors ailing singer

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