Barack & Michelle Obama React to Aretha Franklin's Death: 'The Gift of Her Music Remains to Inspire Us All'

Barack and Michelle Obama shared their love for Aretha Franklin upon the news of her passing Thursday morning (Aug. 16), declaring that the Queen of Soul "helped define the American experience" on Twitter and in a joint statement.

The former president first tweeted, "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. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace." Michelle followed shortly after, adding that Franklin's performances "made time stand still."

The two also shared a statement about Aretha's influence. "America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring," they wrote. "Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all."

Aretha was a big part of Barack Obama's eight-year presidency, first singing a roaring rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at his 2009 inauguration. Among other performances for the Obamas, Franklin sang alongside the foremothers of American music at the “In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul" event in 2014 and famously brought Barack to tears with "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

Franklin passed away at her home in Detroit at the age of 76 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Countless stars have paid tribute to the icon, including Mariah Carey, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande and more.

Read the Obamas' messages about Aretha below.