The world grew dark as soul lost its Queen.
Aretha Franklin, the legendary soul singer responsible for iconic tunes like “Respect,” died Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She spent the past few days in hospice care at her Detroit home, where she was visited by the likes of Rev. Jesse Jackson, singer Stevie Wonder and Franklin’s ex-husband, actor Glynn Turman.
“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,” Franklin’s family said in a statement.
As news of her passing spread, many took to social media to pay tribute to the singular figure in American culture, with remembrances coming from presidents to lay people alike.
President Trump offered “condolences to the family of a person I knew well. She worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific,” he said at a cabinet meeting Thursday. “She’s brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come. She was given a great gift from God — her voice, and she used to well. People loved Aretha. She was a special woman.”
Former president Barack Obama tweeted a series of photos showing Franklin during pinnacle moments of his presidency, including at his 2009 inauguration.
“Aretha helped define the American experience,” he wrote. “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect.”
The outpouring continued Thursday as figures such as Hillary Clinton, musician Carole King and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, simply tweeted about how much she meant to them.
“Mourning the loss today of @ArethaFranklin who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend,” Clinton tweeted.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paid tribute with a note on its website: “The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin was an artist of passion, sophistication and command, whose recordings remain anthems that defined soul music. Long live the Queen.”
The Recording Academy offered similar words: “Aretha Franklin was an incomparable artist who came to be recognized as one of the most profound voices in music . . . Her distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings, and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide. Aretha will be dearly missed, and our thoughts go out to her loved ones during this difficult time.”
Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Twitter account honored the singer, by tweeting out the definition of the word “respect” along with a heart emoji.
Many praised her for breaking barriers as a woman of color climbing the ranks of the entertainment industry in the 1960s.
Some were quick to point out the Queen of Soul died 41 years to the day after the King of Rock-and-Roll, Elvis Presley.
A tribute concert to the late singer was already in the works before her passing. The event, produced by Live Nation and spearheaded by Sony Music Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis, who signed Franklin to Arista Records in 1980, is reportedly titled “Clive Davis Presents: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin” and is scheduled to be at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 14.