According to Fox News, at one of her last public performances, in June 2017, she closed out a free concert in her hometown of Detroit with the message: "God bless you, God keep you, keep me in your prayers".
Last year, the icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at "some select things".
By this point, Franklin had already given birth to two children - the first of whom she had at 14 - and was beginning a tempestuous marriage to Ted White, who became her manager.
To say Franklin is on the Mount Rushmore of pop divas does her no justice at all. President George Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Her bell-clear voice with its four octaves found its way into the styles of stars such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston - whose mother, Cissy Houston, was a backup singer for Franklin - to Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Amy Winehouse.
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Franklin cut some of her greatest records at Atlantic-she recorded so many great songs, that it's impossible to choose just one to serve as a signature.
The legendary artist died today after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.
Aretha was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1942.
She sang at the inaugurations of two presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. She sang "Precious Lord", the same song she performed during King's memorial service in 1968.
"The entertainer famously caused then-President Obama to wipe tears from his eyes as she belted out a rousing rendition of "(You Make me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. She was married and divorced twice but said little publicly about either relationship.
"Her music is literally the soundtrack of my life".
Her relatives said they had "lost the matriarch and rock" of their family in a statement issued via her publicist.
The world she grew up in was one in which gospel singing took centre stage, and where the growing popularity of her father's driving sermons led to his mission being visited by various performers like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. She often did not get along with other women singers, including her sisters, could be quick to fire underlings and was erratic when it came to showing up for concerts and appointments.