Obamas release heartfelt joint statement about the passing of Aretha Franklin

Singer Aretha Franklin (R) accepts applause as she finishes her performance with the Obamas and Harry Johnson, president and CEO of the MLK National Memorial Project Fund (L) as they attend the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial on the National Mall October 16, 2011. (Photo by Mike Theiler-Pool/Getty Images)

This week everyone from Diana Ross to Donald Trump released a statement or tribute on the passing of music legend, Aretha Franklin. Now, the Obamas have added their voice to the mix and opened up about what The Queen of Soul meant to them specifically and to the country collectively.

“Aretha helped define the American experience,” former president Barack Obama tweeted to his followers. “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”

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Since the news of her deteriorating health broke last week, fans have been holding vigils and holding out hope that she would pull through. On Wednesday, the New Bethel Baptist Church in her hometown of Detroit, even held a special service for her that began before dawn. On Thursday, her family released a statement confirming Franklin had died at her home surrounded by loved ones.

“Watching Aretha Franklin perform at the White House, and on so many other occasions, made time stand still,” shared a grieving Michelle Obama.” and I are holding Aretha’s family in our hearts right now. She will forever be our Queen of Soul.”

Franklin once famously brought then President Obama to tears during one of her performances and was even personally requested to sing at his historic 2008 inauguration.

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In addition to their individual posts, the former President and First Lady also shared an official joint statement paying homage to their dear friend.

“America has no royalty,” they wrote. “But, we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine.”

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“Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience,” they continued. “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade – our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just feel about everything else and dance.”

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“Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all,” they concluded. “May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.”

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