Aretha Franklin remembered as 'Queen of Soul' with 'special gifts'

As news of legendary singer Aretha Franklin’s death broke Thursday, celebrities and friends of the music icon took to social media to pay tribute to the "Queen of Soul."

The 76-year-old died of advanced pancreatic cancer. She had dealt with undisclosed health issues that kept her offstage in recent months.

“I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin,” said Diana Ross.

“Mourning the loss today of [Aretha Franklin] who shared her spirit and talent with the world,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. “She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend.”

Jesse Jackson, Franklin’s longtime friend who visited her just before she passed away, said “a lot of music left the earth today," while sharing a photo of his friend on social media.

Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama said Franklin “helped [them] feel … more human.”

“America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring,” the couple said. “Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine.”

“She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”

— Barack and Michelle Obama

“Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. 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 Obamas continued. “She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”

Michelle Obama, too, shared a photo of Franklin performing at the White House, wearing a fur coat with one hand held high. Her performances, the former first lady said, “made time stand still.”

Franklin's father, Detroit Rev. Clarence LaVaughn (C.L.), was a close friend and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr.

Bernice King, one of the civil rights leader’s children, said, “We were blessed to live in a world with [Franklin]."

“Beyond her tremendous singing voice, she was a voice in the Civil Rights Movement. An instrument,” King said, adding that her parents “have welcomed the [Queen of Soul] to their heavenly home.”

King's oldest son, Martin Luther King III, also shared his grief over Franklin's death.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Aretha Franklin. She was beyond a legend in the nation and world. I will always be grateful for her support of my father and the civil rights movement through the years. My prayers go out to her family and friends. Rest in Peace,” he said in a tweet.

President Trump said Franklin was “a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!”

“What a life. What a legacy!” said venerable singer Carole King. “So much love, respect and gratitude.”

“Her voice will keep lifting us, through the music she gave the world,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. “Our thoughts are with her family, her loved ones and fans everywhere. Take her hand, precious Lord, and lead her home.”

Bravo host Andy Cohen said, “There will never be another Queen of Soul.”

“Aretha Franklin is the embodiment of a soul blessed with a special gift. Grateful we have decades of recordings that will live on. Long Live The Queen,” Cohen said.

Television personality Montel Williams said his “heart is heavy.”

“When a baby is born, it cries while the world rejoices. [Franklin] lived her life such that in her passing the world cries and Heaven rejoices,” Williams said. “She is flying high with Him and no doubt singing Good News of Great Joy. Rest easy, friend.”

Still others expressed their condolences for “the Queen” on social media.

Fox News’ Jennifer Earl contributed to this report.