Celebrities, friends memorialize 'irreplaceable' Aretha

The Detroit News
Stevie Wonder, who would sing in the pregame show, says how pleased he is to be with Aretha Franklin, right, and to be home in Detroit  on Feb. 2.    Franklin, Aaron Neville and Dr. John would join forces on the national anthem.

Aretha Franklin was beloved across the world, an icon who many consider the greatest vocalist of all time. 

When news of her death from pancreatic cancer spread Thursday, celebrities and public figures from all areas memorialized the Detroit legend. Some were close friends who shared personal photos and videos. Others were inspired by her in their own careers.

Here are some of their messages:

President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama

"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. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace."

Smokey Robinson 

"This morning my longest friend in this world went home to be with our Father. I will miss her so much but I know she’s at peace."

Diana Ross 

"I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin"

Thornetta Davis

Clive Davis

"I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing. She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world."

Billy Joel

"We have lost the greatest singer of our time. As a songwriter, I know personally how meaningful a gifted interpreter of material can be. No one can replace her."

The Recording Academy 

"Aretha Franklin's distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings, and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide."


"We’re saddened by the loss of Aretha Franklin. Asteroid 249516 Aretha, found by our NEOWISE mission and named after the singer to commemorate the #QueenOfSoul, will keep orbiting beyond Mars."

Bernice King

"We were blessed to live in a world with #ArethaFranklin. Beyond her tremendous singing voice, she was a voice in the Civil Rights Movement. An instrument..."

Kamala Harris

"From listening to Mary Don't You Weep, to standing in the living room dancing to Rock Steady over and over again, to hearing from the Queen herself how lucky I was to be young, gifted and black — Aretha's songs were the soundtrack of my childhood. America has lost a legend. RIP" 

Anita Baker

"Lyrics "Im gonna rap on your door tap on your window pane" Laid the Foundation...Brick by Brick. #Aretha Franklin Queen of Soul"

Bob Seger

"What an other worldly talent. Legendary. Right up there with the greatest singers ever. She will be greatly missed. Irreplaceable."

The Rolling Stones

"Very sad to hear the news about Aretha, she was so inspiring and wherever you were she always brought you to church."

Willie Nelson

"Whether it was Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Pop,or Civil Rights, Aretha Franklin was the greatest gift and the voice of a generation. She could turn any song into a hymn. She will be greatly missed here on earth, but that band in heaven just got our Angel"

Martha Reeves

"The Lord has come to take my “Soul Sister” home. Aretha Franklin was a true Icon in Detroit and around the world."

Steve Harvey

"A true legend and world icon ... the greatest vocalist and entertainer of all time. Aretha paved the way for so many great artists, over 6 decades of music." 

Britney Spears

"Your legacy and music will forever inspire us and future generations."

President Donald Trump

"The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!"

Jennifer Granholm

"Deep R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Queen: R.I.P. Aretha."

Aaron Neville

"I know that the heavenly choir is welcoming Aretha Franklin with open arms. She was definitely the Queen of Soul. I’m so happy that I knew her and had the privilege of sharing a stage with her."

Roseanne Cash

"I can always say I lived in the time of #ArethaFranklin. But today I’m brokenhearted. Travel safely, Queen of Soul."

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