Angelou, who was also prominent in the civil rights movement, died at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Maya Angelou, who rose from poverty, segregation and the harshest of childhoods to become a force on stage, and screen.
Her son, Guy B Johnson, confirmed the news in a statement. He said: "Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.
"She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love."
Majestic voice, Angelou defied all probability and category, becoming one of the first black women to enjoy mainstream success as an author and thriving in virtually every artistic medium.
The young single mother who performed at strip clubs to earn a living later wrote and recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history. The childhood victim of rape wrote a million-selling memoir, befriended Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and the Rev Martin Luther King Jr, and performed on stages around the world.
An actress, singer and dancer in the 1950s and 1960s, she broke through as an author in 1970 with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which became standard (and occasionally censored) reading, and was the first of a multi-part autobiography that continued through the decades. May Her Soul Rest In Peace