The Obamas were noted admirers of Franklin; the music legend sang the national anthem at Barack’s first presidential inauguration in 2009 and the former president was even caught wiping a tear away when Franklin performed a phenomenal rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.
In a statement from their office, the Obamas noted that “Aretha helped define the American experience.”
“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,” they wrote. “She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human.”
Both Barack and Michelle also shared personal memories of Franklin on their Twitter accounts.
Read the Obamas’ full statement on Franklin below.