ATLANTA - Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with an unparalleled style on classics, including "Think," "I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature hit, "Respect," has died at age 76 from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The cultural icon influenced musicians around the world, including singers in Atlanta.
They sat down with FOX 5's Marissa Mitchell Thursday to reflect upon the pioneer's legacy and impact.
Grammy-winning, soul balladeer Peabo Bryson, who sang ballads with Roberta Flack, Celine Dion, and Regina Belle, was a friend to Franklin. He's an accomplished singer in his own right with songs, including "A Whole New World" with Belle and "Can You Stop the Rain." Even with his own success, he said being commissioned by Franklin to sing at one of her birthday parties in the eighties was a validating moment in his career.
"It's a command performance from the queen. And you show up. It was an extraordinary moment to stand toe-to-toe with Aretha Franklin for the first time," Bryson told Mitchell. "You realize you have landed in this unique universe and the ruler of this universe is inches away from you. And she not only wants you to perform for her but she wants to perform with you."
Avery Sunshine, a soul and gospel musician, shared a similar connection to the trailblazer. In 2015, she sang at a birthday party as well as a Christmas occasion for Franklin at her request.
"I'm still trying to figure out what happened! How did it happen? She sent a personal email to my booking agent which was so human of her" Sunshine exclaimed. "....And what's interesting is that her genius is her normalcy."
Sunshine told Mitchell she initially had "butterflies" and decided to sing classics for the legend. But Franklin encouraged her to sing her own music.
"There was something so healing that came from her. It is almost unspeakable," Sunshine added.
Franklin's talent crossed generations, cultures and music genres. The 18-time Grammy Winner influenced soul, rock, pop and gospel musicians, many of whom shared condolences on the day of her passing.
Atlanta radio host Frank Ski said her reach also extends to other music forms some may not consider.
"There have been many hip-hop hits that use Aretha Franklin, everybody from Kanye West to T.I. to OutKast...that's timeless," Ski stressed.
Click the videos on the side to hear more from FOX 5's Marissa Mitchell's interviews with soul singers Peabo Bryson and Avery Sunshine as well as radio host Frank Ski.