Aretha Franklin is ‘Gravely Ill’ in Detroit, Surrounded by Family

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Aretha has suffered with ill health over the years and was previously diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Don't count out the Queen of Soul just yet as her family reports Aretha Franklin is smiling and laughing and resting easy, according to PEOPLE.

The 76 year-old "Queen of Soul" Franklin, known for hits such as Respect (1967) and I Say A Little Prayer (1968), "is gravely ill in Detroit".

One of Aretha's close friends told TMZ that they were told a week ago to prepare for the worst as she "could go any time". There were unconfirmed reports she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011.

On Tuesday's episode of TODAY, reporter Charles Croucher shared an update on the incredible messages of strength and prayers that have poured in on social media.

Aretha: "Alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people".

"She was ideal symbolically for that moment in time where she could speak to so many parts of America because she was that critical bridge between civil rights, religion and pop culture", McGuffey said. "So many have given us decades of Timeless music".

That same year she was tapped to sing at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. where she performed a stirring rendition of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand".

Franklin said she felt "exuberant" about her plans and at the time vowed to continue to do "some select things, many one a month, for six months out of the year". President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. "We love you, and thank you".

"She did not want people to know and she didn't make it public", the source said. Rumors circulated that her condition placed her "near death", but her family has backed off that claim. No more details were provided.

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