albertina_walker_web.jpgCHICAGO (AP) _ President Barack Obama says he's saddened by the recent death of a Chicagoan who came to be known as the "Queen of Gospel.''

In a written statement from the White House, Obama says the country's lost "an American icon'' with the passing of Albertina Walker.

After growing up on Chicago's South Side, Obama says Walker "never forgot to give back, impacting her community'' by participating in various charities.

Relatives say the Grammy-winning singer died of respiratory failure on Friday. She was 81.

Walker formed her own gospel group, the Caravans, as a young woman. She was a protege of gospel star Mahalia Jackson.