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The Year in Music 2018 — Farewell to the Queen of Soul


Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tribeca Film FestivalThe music world lost many major artists in 2018, but perhaps none more beloved or impactful than the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer at her Detroit home on August 16 at age 76.

The first female performer ever to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Franklin had had health problems for the past few years, and she often had canceled concerts.  In late 2017, she appeared alarmingly thin at a charity event but claimed it was a side effect of an unspecified medication. After announcing she was retiring from the road in 2017, Aretha still lined up shows for 2018, but in March, she was ordered by her doctors to cancel all of her performances and rest for two months.

In the days leading up to her passing, news reports emerged that Aretha was gravely ill and had received visits from her friend Stevie Wonder and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

A free tribute concert featuring The Four TopsPatti LaBelle and many others was held in Detroit’s Chene Park Amphitheatre on August 30, the night before Aretha’s funeral. The funeral service itself, held at Motown’s Greater Grace Temple, was a nine-hour affair televised and streamed live online.

The memorial featured speeches by former President Bill Clinton, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse JacksonTyler PerryCicely Tyson, record executive Clive Davis and Aretha’s childhood friend Smokey Robinson.

Musical performers at the service who honored the Queen included Faith HillAriana GrandeRon IsleyChaka KhanFantasiaJennifer HudsonGladys Knight, Wonder and Jennifer Holliday.

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