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The former President of The United States of America, Barack Obama, has paid his tributes to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, after she passed away earlier today..
Franklin died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 at her home in Michigan today.
President Obama knew Aretha well and the Motown singer performed at his first inauguration ceremony back in 2009.
Obama and his wife Michelle issued a joint statement that said: "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.
"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."
The ex-President and First Lady also praised Aretha Franklin's talent for writing songs and live performance. The statement went on to praise Franklin's 'compositions and unmatched musicianship'.
"Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine." They added.
Apparently, the USA's first black president was adamant as soon as he was elected that the Memphis-born singer should perform at his swearing in.
This was confirmed by a former Obama administration staffer, Alyssa Mastromonaco, in a tweet released shortly after the announcement of Aretha's death. She said: "I don't talk a lot about private conversations me and [Barack Obama] ever had but when I started a conversation with him about talent for the first inaugural he cut me off and said 'Aretha' #RIPArethaFranklin"
i don't talk a lot about private conversations me and @POTUS44 ever had but when I started a conversation with him about talent for the first inaugural he cut me off and said "Aretha" #RIPArethaFranklin
- alyssa mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) August 16, 2018
Back in 2015, shortly before he left office, Obama was spotted singing along at a performance by Aretha who was singing '(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman'.
Obama could be seen to be visibly moved at the time and afterwards said: "American history wells up when Aretha sings.
"Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R. & B., rock and roll ― the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope."
During her career, Franklin won 18 Grammy awards and had countless hit singles. She stopped performing and cancelled shows back in March.
Her family announced her death in a statement earlier today that read: "It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Aretha Louise Franklin, the Queen of Soul
"Franklin, 76 years old, passed away on Thursday morning, August 16 at 9:50am at her home in Detroit, MI, surrounded by family and loved ones.
"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.
"We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers.
"We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."
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