Aretha Franklin – the 76-year-old Queen of Soul – is reportedly ‘gravely ill’ in hospital in Detroit, where she has lived for most of her life.
She is said to be surrounded by friends and family, who are asking for prayers.
Sharing the news in his Showbiz 411 column, entertainment reporter Roger Friedman said: “Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her. She will be so missed as a mother, sister, friend, cousin.
“But her legacy is larger than life. It’s not just that Rolling Stone called her the number 1 singer of all time, or that she is the Queen of Soul. Long live the Queen.”
He added that she was previously diagnosed with cancer in 2010, but had ‘bravely battled back’ from this.
Aretha is most known for her big hits, including ‘Respect’, ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘Natural Woman’.
In an interview with Norman Jopling, which was first published in Record Mirror in 1968, Aretha talked about another of her popular songs, ‘I Never Loved A Man’.
“To tell the truth, I never expected that song to be a hit,” she said.
“I was surprised. I could see more potential in ‘Respect’ – in fact, I can say I knew that would be a hit song.
“Sometimes I can’t get a song right in the recording studio, though. We usually work things out beforehand, not like the Memphis studio where they don’t plan things like that, but can end up with a master.
“We usually know what we’re going to do. I sing and the musicians kind of fit things around me. Two of my favourite songs incidentally are ‘Rock-a-Bye’, which was on Columbia, and ‘Chain of Fools’.”
When asked if she would still be still be doing numbers like ‘Respect’ and ‘Think’, she said:
“No, I shouldn’t think so. Music changes, and I’m gonna change right along with it.”
In a more recent interview with Rolling Stone, Aretha explained that she does her best to
keep up with current pop culture – saying she’s a fan of the likes of Ariana Grande, though apparently not so much of Taylor Swift.
Aretha retired at the age of 74, releasing one final album, which was a 2017 collaboration with Stevie Wonder.
She said at the time: “I must tell you, I am retiring this year. I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now.”