Aretha Franklin has been left shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of beloved U.S. TV personality Don Cornelius, who was found dead on Wednesday (01Feb12).
Cornelius, who reportedly shot himself at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, is widely credited with introducing a host of black singers to mainstream U.S. audiences after creating TV programme Soul Train.
The show, which ran from 1971 to 2006, featured performances from the likes of superstars including Michael Jackson, James Brown and Franklin, who has expressed her shock at the news.
The Queen of Soul says, "It's just so sad, stunning and downright shocking... a huge and momentous loss to the African-American community and the world at large. Don Cornelius single handedly brought about a melding and unity of brother and sisterhood among young adults worldwide and globally with the unforgettable creation of Soul Train."
Another music icon, Patti LaBelle, has added her touching tribute to Cornelius, who she refers to as "simply a genius".
LaBelle adds, "The contributions he made to music and our culture are second to none. I will always treasure the fond memories I have of working with Don over the years and being part of the history that he created through Soul Train. He will truly be missed and my heart and prayers go out to his family."
Meanwhile, in a post of his GlobalGrind.com website, rap mogul Russell Simmons writes, "To me, he was the epitome of black excellence. Words cannot describe how much he meant and how many ways he contributed to the landscape of hip-hop and R&B. He will be missed and always revered."
Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and actress Taraji P. Henson are among the other stars who have expressed their shock at the sad news via Twitter.com, while The Roots drummer Ahmir '?uestlove' Thompson laments, "140 characters can't do justice 2 #DonCornelius' impact."