Stevie Wonder at Aretha Franklin's bedside

Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin at a ceremony in 2012. Photo: Getty Images
Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin at a ceremony in 2012. Photo: Getty Images

Aretha Franklin, the legendary soul singer who has fallen gravely ill, has been visited at her Detroit-area home by fellow recording artist Stevie Wonder, US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and ex-husband Glynn Turman, her publicist said.

Franklin, a one-time gospel singer whose reign as the "Queen of Soul" has spanned more than 50 years, is under hospice care at her home on Tuesday, according to publicist Gwendolyn Quinn.

Quinn declined to discuss the 76-year-old's ailment, but said: "She’s seriously ill.”

The singer, whose hit songs include Chain of Fools and Think, has a long-standing professional relationship with Wonder, with whom she performed 13 years ago at the Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards in Pasadena, California.

She and Turman were married from 1978 to 1984.

In her heyday of the 1960 and 1970s, Franklin dominated the music charts with hits including I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),  (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and Respect, a cover of an Otis Redding tune that became a song of empowerment during the US civil rights era.

Franklin's fans, including former US President Bill Clinton, have taken to social media to express their thoughts.

"Like people all around the world, Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight & listening to her music that has been such an important part of our lives the last 50 years," Clinton said in a tweet on Monday night. 

Franklin has had a number of health concerns, including reportedly being diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

The 18-time Grammy winner is one of the best-selling artists of all time and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. She has sold some 75 million albums around the globe during her highly decorated career.

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