Aretha Franklin and Donald Trump have known each other for several decades, and go back to the early days of Trump Tower, where Franklin performed a private concert for the grand opening of the hotel.
However, The Daily Beast claims that their relationship was actually quite icy, and many people even wondered if the president was going to publicly acknowledge her death or not. Franklin has performed for several past presidential inaugurations, but reportedly refused to perform when Trump was elected.
Here’s what you need to know about Franklin and Trump’s relationship over the years:
1. Trump Had Franklin Perform at a Private Concert During the Opening of Trump Tower in 1997
Donald Trump and “Queen of Soul” superstar Aretha Franklin have known each other for several decades, as shown by pictures of the grand opening of Trump International Hotel and Tower in 1997.
According to an archived article by the New York Times in 1997, Franklin put on a private concert at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater before the grand opening of Trump Tower. A picture was snapped of the two together – a smiling, much younger Trump with his arm around Franklin, who sported a pink silk gown for the occasion.
He can be seen in another picture holding a $50,000 check with Franklin by his side. He had presented the check to Beverly Sills and Nathan Leventhal for the Lincoln Center Consolidated Corporate Fund, according to the New York Times.
2. Franklin Has Performed at Several Other Trump Events Leading Up to His Presidency
In 1998, the Queen of Soul also performed at the Trump Castle Casino, where she reportedly allowed employees to watch her rehearse for over two hours in a 450-seat showroom. Two years later, Franklin again performed at the Trump Taj Mahal & Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
However, by the time Trump had decided to run for president, their relationship had “chilled considerably,” according to the Daily Beast. In December 2016, Franklin asked by The Hill if she would perform for Trump’s inauguration, if asked.
“That’s a good question,” she said.
“That’s a very good question,” she continued, with a smile. “We’ll see.”
3. President Trump Tried to Book Franklin for His Inauguration But Franklin Allegedly “Despised Everything He Stood For”
According to the Daily Beast, “Aretha Franklin hated the political rise of Donald Trump. But that didn’t stop him from trying, and failing, to book her to perform at his 2017 inauguration.”
Shortly after his election victory, President-elect Trump had tasked Tom Barrack, chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, with booking Franklin for the inaugural event. However, according to the Daily Beast, Trump’s contacts in Hollywood failed to secure the legendary singer for the inauguration.
Although Franklin refrained from publicly criticizing the president during or after the 2016 campaign, the Daily Beast reports that two individuals who were close to Franklin and had knowledge of her political views said she was “repelled” by the president, his policies, and his rhetoric.
“One source close to Franklin told The Daily Beast that after the election, she confided to associates that ‘no amount of money’ could convince her to perform at the inauguration,” the Daily Beast reports. “Another knowledgeable source described her as ‘despising’ everything he stood for, and as an avowed Hillary Clinton supporter.”
4. Although She Did Not Sing at Trump’s Inauguration, Franklin Performed for Several Previous Presidents Before Trump
Franklin sang at the inaugurations of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Former President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her impact on America’s cultural landscape in 2005.
“Her instantly recognizable voice has captivated listeners ever since she toured with her father’s gospel revue in the 1950s,” Bush said at the time. “She is among our Nation’s greatest musical artists and has captured the hearts of millions of Americans.”
Several politicians chimed in the chorus of tributes Thursday, giving thanks to Franklin for all she did for civil rights in America, and the beauty she spread across the globe.
“Mourning the loss today of [Aretha Franklin] who shared her spirit and talent with the world. She deserves not only our RESPECT but also our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears and hearts. Rest in eternal peace, my friend,” Hillary Clinton wrote.
“I’ll always be grateful for her kindness and support, including her performances at both my inaugural celebrations,” said Bill Clinton.
5. President Trump Called Franklin a “Great Woman” Who Will “Inspire Many Generations” to Come
President Trump mourned her passing on Twitter, claiming she was a “great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice.”
According to Philip Crowther, the White House pool stated that the president also described Franklin as “a person he knew well and who worked for him.”
Trump also offered his “warmest wishes and sympathies” to Franklin’s family after news of her death spread.
“Her legacy will thrive and inspire many generations,” the White House pool statement said.