Aretha Franklin's death inspires heartfelt tributes from friends, famous fans

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She then added, "We love you", according to the Detroit Free Press and thanked the legendary singer for the "beautiful music". We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. "Aretha was one of the best-selling artists of all times and was popular for churning hits like 'Respect" and "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman".

Funeral arrangements for the singer have not yet been announced. She also scored an global number-one hit with "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", her duet with George Michael.

Franklin emerged from the multiple paths that had already been forged by Holiday, Nina Simone, and Mahalia Jackson: Like Sam Cooke (who was a family friend), she melded Gospel with pop music so seamlessly that now it's hard to think there was ever a time when the two ran on parallel, if often criss-crossing, paths.

Her father led the city's New Bethel Baptist Church, which became a centre for the civil rights movement.

She also sang at the October 2011 dedication of the King memorial in Washington, stirring the crowd with a rendition of the gospel anthem 'Precious Lord'. Barbara died weeks before Aretha's 10th birthday.

Aretha is survived by her four children, Ted White Jr, Kecalf Cunningham, Clarence Franklin and Edward Franklin.

Raised in Detroit, Franklin grew up singing gospel music at a church where her father was a minister. She began performing solos as an opening act for her father's preaching engagements, but Motown was calling. Following an initial contract with Columbia, she emerged in earnest with an unimpeachable run of albums and smash hit singles on Atlantic Records in the second half of the decade. A year before her death, Aretha announced that she would stop touring.

In the 1980s, Franklin earned her first platinum album with the hits "Freeway of Love", "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves" and "Who's Zoomin' Who?".

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You only have to compare Otis Redding's original recording of Respect to Aretha's version to hear it.

Many celebrities paid their respects to the iconic diva once news of her illness surfaced, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z who honored her at their most recent OTR II show in Detroit. "That included unforgettable classics like "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)", "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man", "Respect", "Baby I Love You", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "Think", "I Say a Little Prayer", and "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. She was one of five siblings.

She recorded an album of gospel material called Amazing Grace which sold millions.

Franklin was the high school dropout whose voice graced Martin Luther King Jr's memorial service, serenaded three presidents and whose voice was deemed so precious that it was declared a natural resource in the USA state of MI.

She stayed with Atlantic Records until 1979.

During her career Aretha performed duets with the likes of her goddaughter Whitney Houston, Elton John, George Michael and Frank Sinatra. She would also perform for Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

"She has been ill for a long time", a longtime friend of the star told People Magazine. Franklin and White divorced in 1969 after seven years of marriage.