Oprah Winfrey and U.S. President Barack Obama have joined stars including Bette Midler, Tony Bennett, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams to pay tribute to celebrated writer/poet Maya Angelou following her death on Wednesday (28May14). The influential author passed away at her home in North Carolina, just days after ill health prompted her to cancel an appearance at a prizegiving this Friday (30May14), and celebrities took to their Twitter.com blogs to celebrate her life within minutes of the tragic announcement.
Veteran entertainer Midler became one of the first stars to comment on the 86 year old's passing, writing, "The beautiful Maya Angelou died this morning. A big and radiant soul, at rest at last", while crooner Bennett posted, "Maya Angelou was an exceptional writer and human being and her inspiration will continue to enrich us all."
Rihanna praised Angelou as an "angel" and revealed, "The first book I read as a teenager, 'I know why the caged bird sings'. Felt like we knew her", and singer and superproducer Williams mused, "Her light will be sorely missed".
TV titan Winfrey paid a touching tribute to her longtime "mentor, mother/sister, and friend", adding, "She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give,' is one of my best lessons from her... "She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds."
President Obama, who awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, also issued a statement about Angelou's passing, writing in part, "(Wife) Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time: a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman."
A slew of other tributes have also been posted online from the likes of Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington, Beyonce, William Shatner, Kelly Rowland, Lena Dunham, Olivia Munn, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, rapper Nas, and revered U.S. broadcaster Larry King.