That was the former president, Barack Obama, who released a joint statement with his wife Michelle praising the legacy of the woman known as the "queen of soul". She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.
Beyonce thanked Aretha for her "beautiful music" and said: "We love you".
The cultural icon, whose 1967 signature song, "Respect", became a rallying cry for the USA civil rights movement, passed away in Detroit, Michigan on Thursday morning after battling advanced pancreatic cancer. The official cause of death was advanced pancreatic cancer. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family, ' a statement from her family read.
Within three years, she had released several of her most iconic hits, including "Respect" and "I Say a Little Prayer". "The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds". "As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this hard time", the family's statement continued.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Aretha was surrounded by her friends and family at her home when she passed.
A 28-year-old woman who gave her name only as Bianca was taking photographs with her family nearby.
"Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine", the former United States president said in a statement.
Aretha emerged in a gold dress and a fur coat, carrying her clutch bag on stage with her - a decision that was equal parts baffling and legendary.
After releasing her first single, Never Grow Old, in 1956, it wasn't until 1967 - when Aretha signed to Atlantic Records - that she found worldwide fame, reaching Number 10 with what would become her signature hit, Respect.
"My faith always has been and always will be important to me", she once told reporters. She was an instant success on R&B radio and on the touring circuit, but she really exploded into the pop consciousness in 1966, when she moved from Columbia to Atlantic.
In 1993, Franklin delivered a thrilling rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables during President Bill Clinton's inauguration. Franklin was huge among black and white audiences, and rock "n" roll artists looked to her as a paragon of authenticity.
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How he is not engaged in some of the most important decisions that impacts our country. "I was complicit - and for that I regret". It was not clear exactly what he was referring to. "Rob Porter is accused of allegedly abusing his wives", she said.