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Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, has died

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The Queen of Soul has died.

Aretha Franklin passed away at her home on Thursday morning, her publicist has confirmed. The 76-year-old music icon was surrounded by family and loved ones.

Earlier this week, it was reported Franklin had been very ill. She had spent several years battling pancreatic cancer, following a massive career which spanned six decades.

This past spring, Franklin canceled the remaining dates on her scheduled tour, as doctors had advised her to rest. She had recently announced she intended to retire from touring completely, while also hinting at one final album.

"I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it," she said last year, adding: "I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now."

Over the course of her career, Franklin won 18 Grammy Awards, including a lifetime achievement trophy. And in 1987, she became the first woman ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Franklin's passing comes as a special tribute concert in her honor had been planned for Nov. 14 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Details for that event have yet to be announced.

Later Thursday morning, Franklin's family released the following statement:

In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds. 

We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.