A statement from Franklin's family said: "We are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart". "We sincerely apologize to Aretha Franklin's family and friends".
She recorded hundreds of tracks during her legendary career, including hits such as Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, I Say A Little Prayer and Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves.
"We love Aretha not just because she was a great and unique singer, but because she was a great and unique doer. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this hard time", the statement concluded.
The deluge of praise and gratitude from people that traversed musical genres, political ideologies and generations was testimony to the popularity of the singer who collected 18 Grammy Awards and became the first female performer inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"She was the most soulful and inspirational singer of our time. there will never be anyone like her".
She would sing at King's funeral a decade later.
"We are losing a lot of our icons - Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston", said Angelica McKinney, the man who played some of Franklin's songs during the event.
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Benitez added: "You could see our team spirit and work-rate, and with the chances we created, we deserved something from the game".
The opera master was her friend, so when he fell ill at the last moment, Franklin stepped in to sing his most famous aria: Nussun Dorma.
As a teenager, Aretha's father helped her launch a gospel career.
Armstrong said: "I'm very sad because I'm going to miss her".
"Her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world", Streisand wrote.
Annie Lennox, 63, said: "Her voice will soar on for ever". For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls.
But that's not all: Franklin has also been honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, received a National Medal of Arts and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush.
"Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience", former president Barack Obama and wife Michelle said in a statement. We shared the same birthday - and that meant so much to me'.