Aretha Franklin, said to be seriously ill, celebrated by music greats
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Fans and friends, including Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott, offered prayers and well wishes Monday to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who was reported to be seriously ill.
A person close to Franklin revealed her condition to the Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic. No more details were provided.
CNN’s Don Lemon said he was told Franklin is in hospice care at her home.
Carey, who considers Franklin one of her biggest influences, wrote on Twitter that she is “praying for the Queen of Soul.” Missy Elliott said that the public has to celebrate iconic artists before they die.
“So many (of them) have given us decades of Timeless music,” the rapper wrote on Twitter.
Franklin, known for hits like “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” is considered one of the greatest singers of all time.
The singer, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, canceled several concerts earlier this year after she was ordered by her doctor to stay off the road and rest. She was originally scheduled to perform on her 76th birthday in March in Newark, New Jersey, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. After postponing a June 2017 concert at Ravinia due to health issues, Franklin returned in September for the performance.
Last year, the icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at “some select things.” One of those select events was a gala for Elton John’s 25th anniversary of his AIDS foundation in November in New York City, where Franklin closed the event with a collection of songs including “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Freeway.”
Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the lone surviving original member of the Four Tops, told the Associated Press he and Franklin have been “very close” for decades and their most recent conversation was about a week ago by phone. Fakir said they talked after Franklin had stopped by his Detroit house when he wasn’t there.
“She was telling me she rides around the city every now and then — she talks about how beautiful it is again,” Fakir said. “We were reminiscing about how blessed we were — only a couple two of us are around from that era. We were just kind of reminiscing about the good times we had.”
Fakir, who calls Franklin “baby sis” because he’s older than she is by six years, said despite her health troubles “she was talking about the future.”
“She talked about this great, big special she was going to have in New York, with all her great friends performing,” he said. “It made me feel good as well — she was still hoping and wishing and dreaming as we do in this business.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has 18 Grammy Awards to her credit, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award and Grammy Legend Award, and has sold more than 75 million records. Her biggest hits include “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Think,” “Pink Cadillac,” and “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” Her most recent album is the 2016 critically acclaimed “Divas,” which featured several tracks produced by Stevie Wonder. An upcoming compilation, “The Atlantic Singles Collection 1967-1970,” a 34-song survey chronicling her early years at the label, is due out in September.
Born in Memphis, Tenn., Franklin was raised in Detroit and has made her home in the suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, since the 1980s.
In a 2017 interview with the Sun-Times, when asked how much music still meant to her after more than six decades in the business, Franklin said, “You couldn’t be more blessed than being able to do what you love most and make a living at it as well. No one loves music more than me.”
Sun-Times staff reporter Miriam Di Nunzio contributed to this story.