Tributes pour in for ‘gift from God’ Aretha Franklin

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Tributes have poured in for Aretha Franklin after the legendary singer died at home on Thursday at the age of 76.

Presidents, musicians and celebrities have taken to social media to express their love for the ‘Queen of Soul’, who was famous for singing classics such as ‘Think’, ‘Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘Respect’.

At the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, then US president Barack Obama wiped away tears as Franklin brought the house to a standing ovation with her passionate rendition of ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’. He and Michelle Obama paid tribute to her on Twitter on Thursday, saying that she “defined the American experience”.

Former US president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged people to listen to Aretha Franklin’s songs, which have been “such an important part” of their lives.

Current US president Donald Trump told his Twitter followers that Franklin’s voice was a “gift from God”.

A ‘remarkable’ music legacy

The music industry mourned the loss of one of its greats. Smokey Robinson, Franklin’s longtime friend and collaborator, said in a statement yesterday that, “This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace.”

Barbra Streisand, who had also performed with her, said on Instagram that it was “difficult to conceive of a world without her”.

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British singer Adele thanked Franklin on Instagram, writing that she could not remember a day of her life without Franklin’s music.

Mariah Carey referenced Franklin’s songs in her tweet, saying, “I say a BIG prayer for you. You will forever have all of our RESPECT.”

Other celebrities from the music industry came forward to pay their respects.

An ‘iconic symbol of black pride’

Franklin was also known for her role in the civil rights movement. Her song ‘Respect’ became an anthem for feminism and civil rights.

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson visited her in the hospice where she was receiving treatment just the day before she died. In an interview with AP, he said, “The most consistent voice in music for 60 years has been Aretha Franklin’s voice… The world of music has lost a bit of its soul.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organisation that Franklin donated to, wrote that Franklin had “made sure Black women wouldn’t be ignored”.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) tweeted that the singer was an “iconic symbol of black pride”.

Aretha Franklin’s influence on music and civil rights has been felt across the world. But the ‘Queen of Soul’ didn’t only receive tributes on earth, with even the moon paying its respects.

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