‘Seriously Ill’ Aretha Franklin Visited by Luminaries, While Others Pay Tribute

‘Seriously Ill’ Aretha Franklin Visited by Luminaries, While Others Pay Tribute

By Ben Sisario

Aug. 14, 2018                              The New York Times

Aretha Franklin died on Thursday at her home in Detroit. She was 76. Read our obituary here and an essential playlist of her songs.

An ailing Aretha Franklin was visited on Tuesday at her home in Detroit by Stevie Wonder and her ex-husband Glynn Turman, as tributes to the Queen of Soul poured in from around the world.

A spokeswoman for the Franklin family confirmed the visits and said in a statement that Ms. Franklin, 76, is “seriously ill and surrounded by family members who appreciate the outpouring of love and support they have received.” Don Terry, a representative for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, said Mr. Jackson will be visiting Ms. Franklin on Wednesday.

No additional details of Ms. Franklin’s illness were given, and the spokeswoman, Gwendolyn Quinn, declined to answer further questions.

According to two people who were in touch with the family but were not authorized to discuss Ms. Franklin’s condition, the singer of “Respect” and “Natural Woman,” who is universally hailed as one of America’s greatest voices, has been receiving hospice care at home.

Since the news of Ms. Franklin’s illness emerged on Sunday, on the celebrity news site Showbiz411, fans, celebrities and world leaders have offered signs of support. By Monday her name was a trending topic on Twitter.

Beyoncé, performing with Jay-Z at Ford Field in Detroit on Monday, dedicated their concert to Ms. Franklin. “We love you and thank you,” she said.

Also on Monday, former president Bill Clinton posted on Twitter that “Hillary and I are thinking about Aretha Franklin tonight & listening to her music that has been such an important part of our lives the last 50 years.” Ms. Franklin sang at Mr. Clinton’s first inauguration, in 1993.

 

Ms. Franklin also sang at Barack Obama’s first inauguration, in 2009. She was a Kennedy Center Honoree and received the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was the first woman inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987.

Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Chance the Rapper, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rod Stewart, Missy Elliott and Tyler Perry were among the many celebrities who paid tribute on social media.

Ms. Franklin, who has won 18 Grammy Awards, has had a long history of canceling concerts for health reasons, but she has not specified an illness. Her last public concert was at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia a year ago, and last November she sang at an event for the Elton John AIDS Foundation at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan.

In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked her the greatest singer of all time, just ahead of Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and John Lennon.

The lack of detail about Ms. Franklin’s condition led to some premature comments on social media that she had died. On Tuesday, Tim Franklin, a nephew, was quoted in a report by People magazine saying that Ms. Franklin was “alert, laughing, teasing, able to recognize people.”

That comment was rebutted by the rest of the Franklin family, whose representative, Ms. Quinn, said in her statement that Ms. Franklin had met with her nephew in a “very brief visit two weeks ago.”

But by then the People report had been picked up by numerous other media outlets.

Correction: August 14, 2018

An earlier version of this article, using information provided by Aretha Franklin’s representative, misstated the timing of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s visit to Ms. Franklin at her home. He plans to see her on Wednesday; he did not visit on Tuesday.

 

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