Barack obama once said Aretha franklin would be one of the musicians whose records would accompany him to a desert island, “for she’ll remind me of my humanity, what’s essential in all of us. And she just sounds so damn good.”

No other musician, the then-president said, “embodies the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll – the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope … American history wells up when Aretha sings”.

But could the Queen of Soul finally be stepping back from her grand piano? After a career of more than 50 years, the woman widely held to be the greatest soul vocalist of the postwar era announced this week that she was planning to stop touring.