Earlier this week we leaned she was gravely ill.
“I am so saddened to report that the Queen of Soul and my good friend, Aretha Franklin is gravely ill. I spoke with her family members this morning. She is asking for your prayers at this time. I’ll have more details as I’m allowed to release.”
TMZ reported early Monday that Franklin is so ill with cancer she could pass away “at any time.”
“A source very close to Aretha and a longtime dear friend tells TMZ he was told a week ago, ‘Prepare yourself, she’s dying,'” TMZ reported. “The source adds Aretha was down to 86 pounds and her health was failing. The source says 2 weeks ago everyone in Aretha’s circle was told ‘she could go any time.'”
By Wednesday, Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson and her former husband Glynn Turman visited. All there to say their goodbyes.
Franklin, 76, struggled with weight, alcohol and she was a heavy smoker. She gained and lost weight, quit smoking and in 2011, Franklin canceled a concert tour to have a surgery that was rumored to have been to remove cancerous tumors. She never confirmed the diagnosis but a year later, in 2011, she had a comeback concert but the comeback didn’t last as over the next few years, she canceled several big dates to deal with undisclosed medical condition.
Evrod Cassimy, a local Detroit news host and singer-songwriter, said he and Franklin are “close friends.” Read his report on Franklin here.
She told the Associated Press, in a story published in USA Today, she had a “miraculous” recovery. In 2013, she was back on the stage but again, in 2017, she canceled shows.
At one of her last gigs, a show in Detroit at an outdoor venue, she said, to the audience, it was reported, to “keep me in your prayers.”
Franklin’s last private performance was in the fall of 2017 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and her last public concert was held in Philadelphia last summer.
Showbiz 411 says, “Aretha is surrounded by family and people close to her.”
According to the Daily Mail, although Franklin declined to identity her illnesses, all three of her siblings succumbed to cancer; brother Cecil died from lung cancer in 1989; sister Carolyn lost her battle with breast cancer in 1988; and Erma, the eldest, died in 2002 from throat cancer.
Franklin, in a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone said that was her last year performing but was going into the studio to make a record with “her old pal Stevie Wonder.” She told RS, “Of course, several of the songs are going to be produced by Stevie. There’s only one Stevie, right?.”
In an interview with WDIV in Detroit, she said, “I must tell you, I am retiring this year.” She said she was “exuberant” about recording an album and said at the time she could not “wait to get in the studio.”
According to her website, in late 2017, she released “A Brand New Me,” a record of her classics accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Franklin, daughter of a preacher father and singer and pianist mother, was born in Memphis but was raised from age 5 in Detroit. Franklin taught herself to play the piano by ear. She sang in her daddy’s church, New Bethel Baptist and while gospel and spirituals were what she sang for years, she wanted to go a more popular musical route. She signed with Columbia and her first single, in 1960, was “Today I Sing the Blues.”
The University of North Texas has an extensive digital library and record archives of Franklin’s work and music researchers there tell her story: Franklin split from Columbia in 1967 and signed with Atlantic and her career lifted off after she recorded “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” which hit the top spot on the R&B charts. That was followed by the mega-hits “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man’ and the song that is known in every corner of the globe, “Respect,” which has become an anthem for, you name it; the women’s and Civil Rights movements for starters.
Franklin, who earned 30 Grammy awards, was the first woman inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and there’s nary a popular music list that doesn’t feature her at, or near, the top; indeed, she was among the top of Rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists Of All Time list.
In 2015, Franklin performed at the Kennedy Center Honors paying tribute to singer-songwriter Carole King, who helped co-write “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Franklin’s performance brought Pres. Barack Obama to tears.
“Looking out on the morning rain, I used to feel so uninspired. And when I knew I had to face another day, Lord it made me feel so tired.
Before the day I met you, life was so unkind, you’re the key to my peace of mind. You make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman.
When my soul was in the lost and found, you came along to claim it. I didn’t now just what was wrong with me, til your kiss helped me name it. Now I’m no longer doubtful of what I’m living for, and if I make you happy I don’t need to do more. You make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural woman.”
It’s nearly impossible to write this post without wanting to share video after video of perhaps the most powerful and influential voice in gospel, Soul, R&B and popular music who reached millions and millions. But for tonight, let it be “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” as the world says a little prayer for the Queen of Soul.
Monday night, Beyoncé dedicated her and husband Jay-Z’s Detroit concert to Aretha Franklin, saying, “We love you” and thanked Franklin for “the beautiful music,” the Detriot Free Press reported.
Opening for the Carter’s was DJ Khaled, who played anthem “Respect,” at the Ford Field venue near Aretha Franklin Way.