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Aretha Franklin, 76, is 'gravely ill' and surrounded by family and friends at her home in Detroit

The legendary singer has been unwell for a long time

Fiona Ward

Aretha Franklin is 'gravely ill' at her home in Detroit, as a her family ask for 'prayers and privacy' - according to a report from entertainment journalist Roger Friedman's online column Showbiz 411. The article reads: "Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her. She will be so missed as a mother, sister, friend, cousin. But her legacy is larger than life. It’s not just that Rolling Stone called her the number 1 singer of all time, or that she is the Queen of Soul. Long live the Queen."

Aretha photographed in 1968

The singer was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, though she continued to perform as she dealt with her illness. Her last performance was reportedly on 2 November 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation - where fans were shocked by her dramatic weight loss - though her final public performance was in August 2017. Aretha's name is trending on Twitter, with thousands of fans sending messages in tribute to the star. 

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"Oh God.. Aretha Franklin is trending for the reason I feared. I'm not ready," one wrote - while another said: "My prayers are with Aretha Franklin the greatest Queen of soul - everyone should give a shout-out for her. I don't care who you are. Without her there wouldn't be Beyonce or Cardi B or Janet or Brandy. My prayers are with you Aretha." Journalist Harry Hairston also revealed: "Spoke with close friend of Aretha Franklin and family. Iconic singer not doing well."

During her final performance in November 2017

During her incredible career, the soul star has gained 17 Grammy awards, three special recognition prizes and a Golden Globe. In February 2017, she announced that she would be retiring from performing - though she still wanted to continue recording her music. She told radio station WDIV Local 4: "I am retiring this year. I will be recording, but this will be my last year in concert. This is it."

READ MORE: Soul legend Aretha Franklin calls off her wedding to partner William Wilkerson

She added: "I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now. I'll be pretty much satisfied, but I'm not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn't be good either."

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